ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 25 points and Georgia recovered after losing an 11-point lead to beat Tennessee 78-68 on Saturday, ending the Vols’ six-game winning streak.
Tennessee (17-11, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) suffered its first loss since losing to the Bulldogs 68-62 in Knoxville on Feb. 6. Jordan McRae set career highs with eight 3-pointers and 35 points to lead the Vols before fouling out with about 1 minute remaining.
The Vols, who moved into NCAA tournament consideration with their longest winning streak of the season, were denied their first streak of seven straight SEC wins since the 2008 season. Kenny Hall had 10 points but no other Tennessee player scored in double figures.
Article continues below ...
Charles Mann added 18 points for Georgia (14-15, 8-8), which took its first regular-season sweep of the Vols since 2001. Mann made 12 of 14 free throws. Georgia made 22 of 26 attempts overall.
Georgia, which led by 17 in the first half before losing 63-62 at Vanderbilt on Wednesday night, couldn’t hold another big first-half lead against the Vols.
The Bulldogs led the Vols by 11 at 25-14 late in the first half. The Vols rallied to lead 41-40 on McRae’s sixth 3-pointer about eight minutes into the second half.
This time Georgia recovered. Freshman Kenny Gaines, who returned after missing one game with a heel injury, hit a 3-pointer with 5:20 remaining to give Georgia a 53-45 advantage. Gaines’ added another 3 with 2:56 remaining to push the lead to 12 points.
Tennessee tried to rally behind McRae, who sank two 3-pointers in the final 2:30. McRae sank two free throws with 1:10 remaining to cut Georgia’s lead to 69-62. After Mann answered with two free throws, McRae fouled out with 1:02 remaining.
McRae, who averaged 28 points in his last three games, continued his hot streak. He had 27 points in the Vols’ 64-58 win over No. 8 Florida on Tuesday night. His previous highs of six 3-pointers and 34 points came in an 82-72 win over LSU on Feb. 19.
Georgia had five turnovers before it scored its first points. The Vols led 7-0 but couldn’t take full advantage of Georgia’s string of giveaways. The Bulldogs finished with only nine turnovers for the game.
Caldwell-Pope led a quick Georgia recovery, hitting a 3-pointer before stealing the ball from Trae Golden to set up Charles Mann’s fast-break basket for a 7-7 tie.
A 3-pointer by Sherrard Brantley gave the Bulldogs a 25-14 lead. Tennessee closed the half with eight unanswered points to trail 25-22 at halftime. McRae closed the half with a 3-pointer and three-point play, giving the junior from Midway, Ga., 14 of the Vols’ 22 points in the half.