IHTIT: Tennessee Vols vs. Georgia Bulldogs Basketball Preview (1/13/24)

It's Hoops Time in Tennessee: The Vols (11-4, 1-1 SEC, 6-4 vs. Q2+) look to bounce back from a tough road loss to Mississippi State at UGA (12-3, 2-0 SEC, 2-3 vs. Q2+) on Saturday. 

See the basketball glossary for more information. Click for larger version. 

I made changes to the layout of the preview graphic to try and make it more mobile-device friendly. I may have flown too close to the sun. There's a lot there--it's likely too much. I gotta let it marinate and see how I feel about it going forward. Feedback welcome. Some bullet points for Saturday: 

  • A couple of new Flair! items added to the graph. One is the "Cleaner" badge, going to players in the top 10 of any three rebounding categories, or #1 in any one. For UT, that's JJJ and Aidoo. For UGA, it's Russel Tchewa, who we'll discuss more in a minute. 
  • The "Helper" award badge goes to players in the top five of the assists or produced points categories. It's supposed to be the Hamburger Helper logo--it didn't quite turn out. Anyway, ZZ leads the SEC in assists with 76 total and 5.1/game. 
  • There's a new "Burglar" badge for players in the top five in steals or steal percentage. I gave one to Mashack because he is currently the career leader in steal percentage for the SEC. 
  • I also added the logos of prior schools for transfer players. 
  • As for the Dawgs, not a lot of Flair! to go around, but...
  • UGA has a beefy true center in 7-foot, 260+ Russel Tchewa. Good big men have been the downfall for the Vols this year. It's not because Aidoo can't hang, but if he gets into foul trouble like he did in Starkville, it's hard for the Vols to answer. The good news is that Tchewa isn't the player that Tolu Smith is (or that Edey, Dickinson, or Bacot are). But he is an obstacle. 
  • Senior forward RJ Sunahara is statistically bad. He has also started each of the last five games for UGA, all wins, including their first two SEC games, and is one of the team's leaders in win shares. I don't know either. 
  • Georgia has a sneaky good bench, with team assist leader Justin Hill coming in along with the team's 4th-highest scorer RJ Melendez (yes they have two RJs) and steady contributor Blue Cain. 
Life on the road in the SEC is tough. There was no shortage of freakouts when the Vols lost to MSU Wednesday, in part because there was this misled feeling that State is not a good team. They are though--they're a top-30 team via Kenpom--and that's part of the reason for my overdoing it with info on the new preview graphic, I'm trying to see all the angles.

I don't think UGA is quite the team that MSU is. But I don't think they're terrible. If the Vols lose--and that is a possibility because life on the road in the SEC is tough--you will probably see Aidoo fouled out and Tchewa was frustratingly effective. If they win, they probably scored 80+ points. So with the usual caveat that I don't put real money on these games, I will guess UT wins, covers the seven points and the over hits. 


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