The Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 66-61 to earn a share of the 2017-18 regular season SEC championship on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Admiral Schofield stole the show with a game-high 23 points and three rebounds. Grant Williams was close behind and put up 22 points and also had three rebounds before fouling out on a controversial offensive foul with 3:33 left in the game.
Going into halftime Georgia was shooting 58 percent from beyond the three-point line and were making tough shots, according to Schofield.
“They just hit shots that were hard to make,” Schofield said after the game.
The Vols trailed the Bulldogs by eight at the half, but held the Bulldogs to 19 points in the second half. Tennessee was able to take the lead back with five minutes remaining in the game. This was UT’s first time in the lead since the opening minutes of the game.
Head Coach Rick Barnes was not too concerned or worried going into the half trailing.
“I walked off the court at halftime thinking we didn’t play bad,” Barnes said.
Adding,“They (Georgia) were just good.”
Going into the season the Volunteers were predicted to finish 13th in the SEC and its something Williams felt the team used to their advantage this season.
“We don’t really pay attention to those rankings,” Williams said.
Adding, “We would look at it for motivation.”
He would also add that in this time of the season each game is tough and wins don’t come easy now.
“It’s March. That’s something we all know and no game is going to be a blowout,” Williams said.
Highlights from the game came from Schofield after stealing the ball on Georgia’s half the court he would throw down a one-handed dunk to help inch the Vols back into the game.
Lamonte Turner hit a three-point shot halfway through the second half to tie the game at 49. Turner would go on to make three straight three-pointers to help the Volunteers take the lead.
On the Georgia side of the ball, Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Georgia shot 53 percent from the field in the first half, but followed that up with shooting juts 29 percent in the second half. On the glass, Georgia outrebounded Tennessee 38-28 with 12 offensive rebounds.
In the last five meetings between Georgia and Tennessee, UGA had won all five games and Barnes was winless against the Dawgs as the Vols head coach until this win.
Following the game, Barnes addressed the crowd at Thompson Boling Arena with, “Not too bad for a team that was supposed to finish 13th in the SEC.”
Tennessee will go into the SEC tournament and face the winner of Louisiana State and Mississippi State in the third round on Friday March 9th.