Tennessee’s tournament hopes took a serious hit on Saturday, with a 78-68 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. Tennessee had surged into a position to make the tournament over the last month, but the loss to Georgia will put their tournament chances in doubt, and force the Vols into a must win situation over their final two games of the season.
The Vols jumped out to early 7-0 lead on Saturday, but the Bulldogs quickly answered with a 7-2 run to tie the game early at 9-9. Georgia would go into the half with a three point lead. Tennessee would briefly take the lead in the second half 41-40, after a Jordan McRae three-pointer. After calling a timeout Georgia quickly answered with a Tim Dixon dunk. Tennessee would not get any closer the rest of the game. The loss was the Vol’s first since previously losing to Georgia on February 6th.
Jordan McRae had another fantastic game, leading the Volunteers with 35 points in the loss. McRae hit 8 three-pointers, and added 6 rebounds, in 38 minutes of play before fouling out. Kenny Hall scored 10 points off the bench. Jarnell Stokes ended the day with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
Georgia was led in scoring by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, with 25 points. Charles Mann contributed 18 points for the Bulldogs.
The Vols had been playing extremely well since the return of Trae Golden, who has been playing at a high level lately. On Saturday Golden only scored 4 points, on 1-10 shooting. When Golden doesn’t play well, the Volunteers don’t seem to play well, and that rang true on Saturday.
Cuonzo Martin and the Volunteers head into the last week of the season with a lot of pressure on their shoulders. With a 17-11 record, the Vols will need to win their final two games of the season, and a game or two in the SEC tournament, to have a realistic chance to get an at large bid in the NCAA tournament. The Vols have some quality wins on their resume, including wins at home against Kentucky and Florida.
Tennessee (17-11, 9-7 SEC) will take on Auburn (9-19, 3-12 SEC) on Wednesday night at Auburn Arena. The Tigers are currently riding a six game losing streak, and take on Vanderbilt Saturday night.
The Vols and the Tigers will tip off at 9:00 pm est on Wednesday night.