Tennessee guard Keon Johnson (45) brings the ball down court against Texas A&M during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
- The Tennessee Volunteers (13-4, 6-4 SEC) host the Georgia Bulldogs (12-6, 5-6 SEC) Wednesday, Feb. 10
- Both teams are playing well of late, with UGA winning three straight and UT winning three of its last four
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Tennessee Volunteers (13-4, 6-4 SEC) featuring the nation’s best defensive adjusted efficiency mark according to KenPom, hosts the Georgia Bulldogs (12-6, 5-6 SEC) Wednesday, Feb. 10 in Knoxville. Tip is set for 8 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tom Crean’s Bulldogs opened conference play 0-4. But the Dawgs have rebounded in a major way, winning five of their last seven SEC outings. Meantime, Tennessee was the preseason conference favorite — but is currently in third place in the SEC standings behind Alabama and Missouri.
UGA has battled back from a rough SEC start, but now faces the challenging task of knocking off the Vols at home. Rick Barnes’ teams is the heavy favorite Wednesday.
Georgia vs Tennessee Odds
|Georgia||+13 (-110)||N/A||O 140.5 (-110)|
|Tennessee||-13 (-110)||N/A||U 140.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 9 at PointsBet
The Dawgs picked up their third straight win thanks to a 73-70 home win Saturday over Vanderbilt. Sophomore guard Sahvir Wheeler scored a game-high 16 points and Toumani Camara had a critical late block as the program clinched its first three-game win streak under Crean
UT stormed back in the second half against Kentucky Saturday to beat the Wildcats 82-71. Highly-touted freshman guard Keon Johnson — one of four Vols averaging just over10 points per game — scored a career-high 27 against UK. The Vols rallied from a 10-point deficit with 12 minutes remaining to earn the 11-point victory. Fellow freshman guard Jaden Springer scored a career-high 23 in the victory.
While ‘Bama and Missouri are ahead of UT in the standings, the SEC preseason favorite is still one of the highest-rated team in the country. The Vols are No. 12 (not far behind the SEC-leading Tide at No. 8) in KenPom’s overall ratings and lead the country in allowing only 85.9 points per 100 possessions.
A big reason why has been the play of Barnes’ freshamn backcourt. For the second straight week, UT has the SEC Freshman of the Week on its roster. Springer earned the honor last week. This week, it was Johnson. The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 19 points, four rebounds and three and a half assists against Ole Miss and UK.
With 12 minutes left, Kentucky led 58-48. Tennessee’s season was fading fast. They needed someone to step up. Keon Johnson (12 points) and Jaden Springer (10) did, in the form of a 26-6 run that will be remembered forever at Tennessee. All 26 points in one 2-minute video: pic.twitter.com/cGmRL9q4Gk
— Will Warren (@statsbywill) February 7, 2021
It appears this five-star freshman pair are settling in quite nicely. And as long as Johnson and Springer continue to play like they have, UT may end up settling in to that top conference spot they were favored to be in before the season started.
Wheeler had the points and Camara had the clutch block, but it was Jaxon Etter’s effort against the Commodores that impressed Crean and his coaching staff.
Earned. Not given. @JaxonEtter #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/oukUHQqS3Y
— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) February 7, 2021
The 6-foot-4 sophomore walk-on logged a career-high 14 minutes and scored seven points Saturday. But his defense on top Vandy scorer Scottie Pippen Jr. — limiting the son of the NBA great to just 12 point (10 below his season average) —was a critical contribution as the Dawgs continue to build.
Crean’s crew has a brutal schedule ahead. UGA faces three ranked opponents over seven days, starting with UT on the road. After the road trip to Knoxville, the Bulldogs continue on to Tuscaloosa to face SEC-leading Tide Saturday. Then, they return home Tuesday to host current-No. 10 Missouri.
It’s a daunting next three games. But if Georgia can get a similar performance out of Etter Wednesday it did against the ‘Dores, maybe the group can stun Tennessee.
Recent History Favors Underdog
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Georgia, 96-61, dating to 1913, but the Bulldogs have dominated this series in recent years, winning seven of the last 10 meetings.
Some factors to keep in mind though. In addition to limiting opponents to scoring only 59.4 points per game (6th best in NCAA), UT is forcing 15.9 turnovers per game while converting those turnovers into 17.4 points per game. The Vols has also only allowed two opposing player to score 20 points all season.
Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has been a big reason why. He’s had 101 blocks in his last 48 games UT was also fundamentally sound against UK, converting 13 of 15 free throws.
Georgia is improving and the spread is large, but I think UT takes care of business at home against the Dawgs.
The pick: Tennessee -13 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.