Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 13th 2024

After opening Southeastern Conference play last weekend with a blowout win over Ole Miss, No. 5 Tennessee was tabbed as a Final Four contender by Rebels coach Chris Beard.

On Wednesday night, the Volunteers (11-4, 1-1 SEC) became the latest victim in a wild week in college basketball. Their 77-72 loss at Mississippi State made them one of five top 10 teams to lose in a 48-hour stretch.

The Vols visit Georgia in Athens, Ga., trying to avoid an 0-2 week in the league.

Tennessee got itself in trouble with a slow start on Wednesday, falling behind 35-22 at the half. It rallied in the second half to tie the game with 34 seconds remaining at 72-72 on a Dalton Knecht dunk but allowed a 3-point play 20 seconds later.

“The most disappointing thing is we’re so inconsistent,” Volunteers coach Rick Barnes said. “You think you’re getting there. You take a couple steps forward. Now, we took a step backwards. Overall, we’ve got to have more team consistency.”

An example of that inconsistency might be Knecht’s performance. After scoring just two points in the first half, he went off for 26 in the second half, boosting his team-high scoring average to 15.9 points per game.

Barnes said Knecht adjusted to what Mississippi State was doing defensively.

“He’s going to keep getting better every game,” Barnes said. “He is trying to make more of an effort to guard more consistently for longer periods of time. He will do that. He can build on this.”

A bigger concern for Tennessee might be that it received little from its second and third-leading scorers, Jonas Aidoo and Josiah-Jordan James, who were held under their averages at Mississippi State. Zakai Zeigler tried to take up slack with 26 points and seven assists but it wasn’t enough.

While the Volunteers are looking for a bounce-back performance, Georgia is simply looking to keep doing what it has been doing since the middle of November: win.

The Bulldogs stopped Arkansas 76-66 at home on Wednesday for their 10th straight victory, marking their longest winning streak since 1948. They were coached then by Ralph “Shug” Jordan, known more for having the football stadium at Auburn named for him.

While Mike White likely won’t have Stegeman Coliseum renamed in his honor, the second-year coach has clearly found the right players and chemistry this season. At 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the league, the Bulldogs have designs on joining an already deep SEC race.

“I really like our roster,” White said. “I really like the guys we got. We brought in some guys who have experienced winning and we brought in some other guys that sold to use that they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Justin Hill starred in the latest win with 19 points and Niagara transfer Noah Thomasson netted 15. Thomasson leads a balanced attack with 12.7 ppg and Jabri Abdur-Rahim contributes 12.3. Five other players average between 6.9 and 9.9 ppg.

Tennessee leads the all-time series 99-61, winning last season’s matchup 70-41 in Knoxville, Tenn.

–Field Level Media

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