Show Me My Opponent: Georgia

LINEUP NOTES

Georgia:

  • After a couple of early losses, Crean’s messed around with his lineup a bit and debuted a new one against Auburn: Wheeler, Gresham, Edwards, Camara, Hammonds. Considering they lost that game by 22, it wouldn’t shock me to see another change or two, probably in the form of Tyree Crump or Jordan Harris starting.
  • The rotation runs about nine-deep: those main five plus Crump, Tye Fagan, Harris, and Christian Brown. Rodney Howard plays most games, but hasn’t hit double-digit minutes since SMU on December 20.
  • Hammonds has issues with fouling, so he’s only getting about 25.5 minutes per game. Those ~14.5 minutes without him on the floor absolutely have to be won by Tennessee, probably by 5+ points.

Tennessee:

  • Still no fix on the KenPom embed front.
  • Vescovi, Bowden, JJJ, Pons, Fulkerson until proven otherwise.
  • EURO PLASTICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE BEST DAY OF MY YEAR!!!!!! Here is the key news: John Fulkerson, unless it’s out of desperation, will probably never play a 37-minute game again at Tennessee. He pushed himself to his absolute extremes against South Carolina, pretty much single-handedly dragging the team to a win. I can’t imagine Plastics will start, but it’s fair to look at him and think “hey, this guy can give Fulkerson 10 minutes of relief each night, or thereabouts.”

KEY MATCHUPS

Josiah-Jordan James, Yves Pons, and Jalen Johnson vs. Anthony Edwards. All three will get 10+ minutes defending the future lottery pick. If it were me, I’d start with Pons on Edwards and let JJJ/Johnson rest somewhat against Camara, a guy who has a limited offensive role and doesn’t extend the floor all that well. The key here is forcing Edwards into a lot of bad twos. Georgia’s 3-5 against Top 100 teams in KenPom, and Edwards’ 43.9% eFG% has been the result of a lot of several bad mid-range attempts.

John Fulkerson vs. Rayshaun Hammonds. Like Edwards, Hammonds has quietly sucked against Top 100 competition: a 44% eFG%, hampered greatly by just a 41.9% hit rate from two. Fulkerson has been a very good defender the entire time he’s been at Tennessee, and his ability to force opponents into non-rim twos is very overlooked. On the offensive end, Fulkerson’s got to find ways to force Hammonds into bad fouls. Fulk draws about 4.2 fouls per 40 minutes, and Crean is one of the most progressive coaches in basketball in terms of playing guys with two fouls. Feeding Fulkerson (and Pons) is a great way to make him look silly.

PREDICTION

Georgia 66, Tennessee 65.

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