Slow start proves costly in Vols’ loss to Dawgs
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 24 points and led Georgia’s 3-point shooting onslaught Wednesday night as the Bulldogs defeated Tennessee 68-62 to win for the fifth time in their last six games.
Georgia (11-11, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) shot 11 of 20 from 3-point range. Caldwell-Pope was 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Kenny Gaines added 12 points and Vincent Williams had 10 points for Georgia, which has won four straight conference games for the first time since 2003.
Jordan McRae scored 17 points and Jarnell Stokes had 16 points for Tennessee (11-10, 3-6), which never led all night. Stokes also had 11 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double.
Tennessee guard Trae Golden missed his second straight game with a strained right hamstring. Tennessee forward Kenny Hall was in the starting lineup and scored six points one day after his arrest on a charge of driving with a suspended license.
Georgia led 52-43 with less than eight minutes remaining before Tennessee staged a late comeback.
Skylar McBee started the rally by sinking a 3-pointer. Caldwell-Pope answered with a layup for Georgia that made it an eight-point game with 7:19 left. Stokes then scored the game’s next seven points to cut the deficit to a single point.
Stokes began with a layup and delivered a three-point play less than a minute later. When McRae misfired on two free-throw attempts with 4:58 left, Stokes pulled down an offensive rebound off the second miss, drew a foul and hit both his free throws to reduce Georgia’s lead to 54-53.
Caldwell-Pope answered by sinking a 3-pointer with 4:27 remaining, and the Bulldogs stayed in front the rest of the way. Caldwell-Pope, the reigning SEC player of the week, also made a game-clinching 3-pointer that put Georgia ahead 66-58 with 51 seconds left.
Georgia led by as many as 10 points in the first half by capitalizing on its ability to shoot the 3-pointer and Tennessee’s inability to take care of the ball.
The Bulldogs shot 7 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half, with four different players connecting from beyond the arc at least once. Tennessee had more turnovers (11) than baskets (seven) in the first half. Just over eight minutes into the game, Tennessee had an equal number of turnovers (eight) and field-goal attempts.
Once the Vols stopped turning the ball over, they got back into the game.
After trailing 35-26 at halftime, Tennessee didn’t commit a single turnover and tied the game 43-43 on McRae’s three-point play with 13:28 remaining. The Vols didn’t turn the ball over in the second half until a shot-clock violation with 11:03 left.
Georgia regained the lead on a Gaines jumper with 13:12 remaining and pulled ahead by as many as nine points before Stokes went to work.