ATHENS, Ga. — Despite an another amazing offensive effort from Jordan McRae, the Vols saw their six-game winning streak come to an end at Stegman Coliseum on Saturday, 78-68. McRae’s 35 points were the most by a Vol in seven years, but it wasn’t enough as the rest of the Orange & White combined for 33 points. Tennessee fell to 17-11 and 9-7 in the SEC while Georgia improved to 14-15 and 8-8 in the league in sweeping the season series from the Vols. It was Georgia’s first sweep since 2001.
The Bulldogs were led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25 points) and Charles Mann (18 points) as the duo combined for 43 points. Mann made 12 of 14 free throws. Georgia made 22 of 26 attempts overall. Georgia outscored Tennessee, 41-13 in bench points and 30-14 in the paint.
Tennessee falls to sixth place in the SEC, behind Missouri (9-6 SEC), with two games remaining at Auburn and vs. Missouri in the finale at home.
McRae’s scoring effort was the best since Chris Lofton also tallied 35 against Texas on Dec. 23, 2006. Lofton was a remarkable 10-of-15 from the floor including 8-of-11 from 3-point range. McRae’s eight 3-pointers tie for second-most in a game in UT history behind Lofton’s record of nine — set at Georgia (2/11/2006).
Kenny Hall had 10 points as UT’s only other double-figure scorer. Trae Golden (4 points) struggled all night, missing his first nine field goals before connecting on a 3-pointer to finish the game’s scoring.
In his homecoming, the Midway native, McRae continued to keep the Vols in reach throughout the second half while the rest of the team struggled to get on target. Skylar McBee finally knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:51 left in regulation to cut the deficit to five at 53-48. Georgia answered back as Caldwell-Pope nailed a 3-pointer with four minutes left, then Charles Mann made a free throw to give the Bulldogs a nine-point lead with 3:47 left. Then Kenny Gaines connected on a 3-pointer with 2:56 left for a 12-point bulge in the Bulldogs favor.
McRae kept UT alive with back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 2:30 left in regulation. The second bomb brought UT within six at 64-58.
The Bulldogs were nearly perfect from the line to seal the game, making 9-of-10 foul shots in the final 1:22 as Tennessee saw its winning streak come to an end.
After not converting a field goal for the entire first half, Jarnell Stokes (eight points, 10 rebounds) opened the game’s scoring in the second half with a layup 38 seconds into the stanza.
Georgia had six turnovers in the game’s first five minutes, but only turned the ball over three times in the final 35 minutes.
After falling behind 7-0, Georgia outscored Tennessee 25-7 over a stretch of 13 minutes to lead 25-22 at halftime. The Vols made just eight field goals in the first half for 29.6 percent. McRae (14 first-half points) had five of the baskets while the remainder of the team was 3-of-19. Stokes and Golden were a combined 0-of-8 from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
McRae scored the final six points of the half as he hit a 3-pointer and converted a 3-point play to bring the Vols back within three at intermission.
Tennessee kept Georgia off the board for the game’s 4:17 as the Vols opened the contest scoring the first seven points, but the Bulldogs ripped off a 15-4 run to take a 15-11 lead on a Caldwell-Pope layup with 9:23 left in the first half. Georgia continued its offensive charge as the Bulldogs took a 25-14 lead on a 3-pointer by Sherrard Brantley.
The Vols finish their regular-season road schedule at Auburn on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. That game airs on CSS and can be heard on the Vol Network.
University of Tennessee Athletics