By Justin Clemmer
WHO: No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers (16-3, 6-1 SEC) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (13-6, 3-3 SEC))
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. ET
WHERE: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN
HOW TO WATCH: SEC Network
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
Tennessee: G Zakai Ziegler, G Santiago Vescovi, G Josiah-Jordan James, F Julian Phillips, F Olivier Nkamhoua
Georgia: G Mardrez McBride, G Terry Roberts, G Kario Oquendo, F Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, C Braelen Bridges
SPREAD: Tennessee -16.5
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Volunteers bounced back from the brutal loss against Kentucky with a pair of convincing road wins. Tonight, they return to Knoxville as they take on the Georgia Bulldogs.
In their last game, Tennessee went with a small ball lineup with big man Uros Plavsic out with an illness.
“I feel like we can space the floor and there’s a lot of room to drive,” said Josiah-Jordan James.
With only Olivier Nkamhou roaming the paint, the guards took advantage of some of the best spacing they have seen all season. Josiah-Jordan James had a season-high 22 points, hitting four threes. Zakai Ziegler recorded his second-career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.
The Vols dominated the Tigers all game in their own building 77-56.
Getting Josiah-Jordan James going as he is recovering from his knee injury will be key if the Volunteers want to get serious come tournament season.
“He’ll play as many minutes as I know that we would need him. I’d like to think we could keep him under 30 if we can,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes.
In his last three games, James has logged 28, 34, and 30 minutes respectively. Seems like the recovery is going well.
At Least one family will have a house divided tonight. Georgia’s head coach Mike White is the older brother of Tennessee Athletic Danny White.
Coach White will have to scheme a near-perfect offensive game plan tonight, as the Vols still own the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating in the country for the ninth week in a row, per KenPom.
The Bulldogs have dropped two straight games in a season that has been painfully average. They were able to knock off No. 15 Auburn early this month but still have losses to bad teams like UAB and Georgia Tech.
Players to Watch
Tennessee: Uros Plavsic’s status is still up in the air tonight. Nonetheless, expect Tennessee to once again deploy another small-ball starting five, Barnes did mention a lineup change was coming before Plavsic’s absence. The Vols’ guards will likely shine as they did in their last outing.
Zakai Ziegler will be looking to dish out dimes all night. With some simple-dribble penetration, expect shooters to be open as the defense reacts to Ziegler.
Josiah-Jordan James had a phenomenal game last time out. He is one of the biggest benefactors of Tennessee’s improved spacing. With clear driving lanes expect him to be a force once again.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ leading scorer is senior guard Terry Roberts. Roberts came into the season as a transfer from Bradley. He has upped his scoring to 19.5 in SEC play. Tennessee can’t allow him to get going as he is Georgia’s leading shot-taker.
Junior guard Kario Oquendo was teammates in 2020 with Roberts. Oquendo was preseason second-team ALL-SEC and is Georgia’s second-leading scorer (13.4 ppg( after leading the way last season.
Georgia faces a Tennessee crowd that is hungry after losing their last game in Knoxville. With that, and having students back in town, expect the Vols to have a much better showing than their last outing at home.
This will be a warmup game as Tennessee has its eyes set on a College Gameday-sized matchup this weekend against No. 10 Texas.
Tennessee 79, Georgia 48