Georgia (10-11, 4-4 SEC) at Tennessee (11-9, 3-5 SEC)
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 8:05 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) . Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Vol Network (WGOW-FM 102.3, Chattanooga)
Series Record: Tennessee leads, 93-53
Probable Georgia Starters
C-John Florveus, 6-11, 240, SR, (2.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
F-Donte’ Williams, 6-8, 230, JR, (5.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
F-Brandon Morris, 6-7, 205, FR, (4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
G-Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6-5, 205, SO, (15.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.3 spg)
G-Vincent Williams, 6-0, 165, SR, (4.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
Key Reserves: Nemanja Djurisic (6-8, 230, SO); Charles Mann (6-4, 205, FR); Marcus Thornton (6-8, 235, JR).
Probable Tennessee Starters
F-Kenny Hall, 6-9, 230, SR, (6.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
F-Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, 270, SO, (11.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, .556 FG%)
G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 188, SO, (8.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
G-Armani Moore, 6-3, 195, SR, (2.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg,)
G-Jordan McRae, 6-1, 205, JR, (13.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, .303 3PT%)
Key Reserves: Brandon Lopez (6-1, 180, SO); Skylar McBee (6-3, 195, SR); Yemi Makanjuola (6-9, 250, SO); Derek Reese (6-7, 218, FR).
The opening tip
After a short-lived, two-game winning streak, the Vols faced another setback in a disappointing 73-60 loss at Arkansas on Saturday.
While road woes have become a big storyline this season, Tennessee also has found a comfort level at home, where the Vols have won nine of 11 contests this season.
They’ll have a chance to pick up a 10th win on Wednesday when a streaky Georgia team comes to town.
The Bulldogs have been tough to figure out thus far. They come to Knoxville on a three-game winning streak, but have also had two three-game skids and one four-game losing streak this year.
One certainty for Georgia has been the play of guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or “KCP” as he’s known. The sophomore shooting guard is one of the elite scorers in the league (15.5 ppg). At 6-5, he’s long and athletic enough to get to the rim, but he can also be a deadly 3-point shooter (36.7 percent).
Expect Tennessee swingman Josh Richardson to get the first crack at guarding him, but Jordan McRae and Armani Moore might get an opportunity as well.
There’s some uncertainty as to which Vols will be on the floor on Wednesday. Point guard Trae Golden (hamstring) missed Saturday’s game at Arkansas and is questionable at best for Georgia. He hasn’t been ruled out, but it seems unlikely that he will play at this point.
Forward Kenny Hall is also a question mark. The senior was reportedly arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license on Tuesday morning. A Knoxville News-Sentinel report says the incident will be handled internally and it’s unclear if Hall will miss any time due to it.
With or without Hall, the Vols will be looking for another big home performance from forward Jarnell Stokes. He has averaged 17.3 ppg and 13.3 rpg in the last three games in Knoxville.
If Tennessee can get production like that from Stokes against the ‘Dawgs, it has a strong chance of extending its home winning streak to four.
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin on Georgia’s recent improvement: “They changed some lineups and now I think they have the right lineup more than anything. They have not changed what they do, their system and style is still the same and their guys are playing with a level of confidence.”
Tennessee dropped from No. 79 to No. 84 in the latest official RPI ranking put out by the NCAA. . The Vols have four players – Golden, McRae, Hall and Moore – who are from Georgia. . Signee A.J. Davis also hails from the Peach State. . Stokes has a double-double in four of his last five games. . Tennessee’s rebounding margin (+4.5) is third in the SEC, but the Vols are also 12th in the SEC in turnover margin (-3.6) in conference play. . McRae is third in SEC play in scoring (17.3 ppg), while Caldwell-Pope is second (17.6 ppg). . The Bulldogs are 2-4 in true road games this season. . Junior swingman D’Montre Edwards made his first game appearance on Saturday since Jan. 9 vs. Ole Miss. . The Vols are currently in the midst of a 10-game span of playing opponents that are not currently ranked. . Caldwell-Pope is currently projected to be the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, according to NBADraft.net.
Daniel Lewis covers University of Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga