Georgia Tech got the season started last Friday with an 88-69 win over Lamar. Tuesday night, things will get a lot tougher for the Jackets when they travel to Knoxville to take on the #5 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols are currently 2-0 on the season with wins over Lenoir-Rhyne and Louisiana Lafayette.
After greatly exceeding expectations a season ago, head coach Rick Barnes has quietly put together one of the best teams in the nation. The Vols #6 preseason AP poll ranking was the highest preseason ranking in school history, and it is certainly deserved. Tennessee returned 12 players from last seasons SEC championship winning team that finished 26-9 on the year. While everyone on this team contributes in their own way, the two key players to watch are Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield.
Williams, last seasons SEC player of the year, is projected by many to win the award again. A season ago, he averaged 15.2 ppg and 6 rpg. He has already picked up where he left off a season ago, dropping 31 points in their last game against LA-Lafayette.
Schofield, an absolute freak athlete, might have the most well rounded game of anyone on the team. At 6-5 and 240 lbs, he’s a load to handle inside the paint. However, as a 40% three point shooter, he can’t be left alone on the perimeter either.
While Tennessee is a pretty balanced team and do boast a strong offense, they especially pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball. A season ago, Kenpom.com ranked Tennessee as the sixth best defensive team in the nation. The Vols do not force a ton of turnovers, but instead they use their size and athleticism to force teams into bad shots and not allow any easy baskets.
This will be the final game of a four year series between these two teams, a series which Tennessee currently leads 2-1. Given the strength of this Tennessee squad, if the Jacket’s can keep things close, it should be considered a win.
Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is at 9pm EST.