With Georgia season in balance, Bulldog basketball faces the Volunteers


The Georgia Bulldog basketball squad entertains the Tennessee Volunteers in a pivotal SEC contest Saturday at noon.

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With a 5-4 SEC record and a 9-3 non-conference record against a quality schedule, the Georgia basketball team makes the turn onto the back nine against the Tennessee Volunteers in the Stegeman Coliseum Saturday at noon. (ESPN2)

The contest will break part of the logjam in the SEC where Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Tennessee all share the SEC’s fifth spot with 5-4 records. And as Florida entertains undefeated Kentucky, the Dawgs have an opportunity to rise above the SEC pack.

Georgia has five home games remaining – one against Kentucky – and four road games. The Bulldogs are 10-1 at home and 4-4 on the road, including the last two games against Kentucky and South Carolina while missing likely team MVP Marcus Thornton.

The math is easy. Beat the Volunteers and the Dawgs are only 4 wins away from 10 SEC wins and 19 wins overall. With a 25 RPI and strength of schedule ranked 18, 19 wins seems likely to land the Dawgs in the NCAA Tourney. And should the Dawgs take care of business, it sets up Georgia’s biggest regular season game in years in College Station against Texas A&M.

First things first, and the number one issue for the Bulldog team is the health of Marcus Thornton.  Thornton participated in non-contact practice Thursday, we think. If Thornton, the leading scorer and rebounder, returns to the lineup after some quality practice time, Georgia should get a home victory Saturday.

Josh Richardson leads Tennessee with 16 points a game. Richardson takes by far the most shots and will be the focus of the Dawgs perimeter defense. The Vols Kevin Punter from the Bronx, NY, continues the New York tradition for the Volunteers and scores 11 points a game.

At home, junior Kevin Punter is successful on 50% of his 3-point shots, but on the road he shoots 30%. The Dawgs will also again face another excellent player from Georgia. Kennesaw’s Armani Moore scores 10 points a game for Tennessee.

Feb 3, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Kevin Punter (0) shoots the ball against Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Fred Thomas (1) at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee head Coach Donnie Tyndall took over the Tennessee program on April 22, 2014. He served previously as head coach at Southern Mississippi and his alma Mater Morehead State.

Just as Georgia struggled the last two games, Tennessee is reeling from a1-3 record in its last four games. The Dawg veteran backcourt played like pups against Kentucky. But if Georgia’s guards reassert themselves and the Georgia big men play as they did in Lexington, Georgia wins this game and likely goes on to accept an NCAA berth.

But a home loss would be devastating to the Dawgs season. A great opportunity joins desperation, and if Georgia doesn’t play like the house is on fire, Dawn of the Dawg will be shocked.

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