Georgia dents Tennessee's NCAA tournament hopes

Georgia dents Tennessee's NCAA tournament hopes

March 2nd, 2013 by Patrick Brown in Local - Breaking News

ATHENS, Ga. - The streak is over.

Tennessee's hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament took a big blow, too.

Despite Jordan McRae's impressive 35-point performance, the Volunteers were outplayed most of Saturday afternoon in a 78-68 loss at Georgia as the Bulldogs completed the season sweep of Tennessee at Stegeman Coliseum.

Tennessee, who entered the game on a six-game win streak since Georgia beat the Vols in Knoxville on Feb. 6, trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half before an 8-0 run trimmed the halftime deficit to 25-22.

Though McRae again paced the Vols offensively, Trae Golden (1-of-10 shooting, zero points the game's first 39 minutes), Jarnell Stokes (eight points and 10 rebounds on 3-of-7 shooting) and Skylar McBee (1-of-7 on 3-pointers) all struggled offensively. Tennessee could not overcome that trio scoring just 15 points.

McRae made 10 of 15 shots from the field and hit eight of his 11 attempts from behind the 3-point line, but the rest of the Vols combined to score just 33 points on 12-of-42 shooting and 2-of-14 from 3-point range.

With Georgia clinging to a 48-45 lead, McBee's 3-pointer from the wing rimmed out. A few moments later, Kenny Gaines made a trey from the corner to put the Bulldogs up 53-45. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope delivered a similar dagger from the opposite corner to push Georgia's lead back to eight points before Gaines essentially ended the game with a long-range make that made it 62-50 with less than three minutes remaining.

Tennessee entered the day on ESPN bracket analyst Joe Lunardi's list of the first four teams out of the NCAA tournament, though CBS' Jerry Palm was among the analysts who projected the Vols in the NCAA tournament.

Caldwell-Pope surpassed his output from Georgia's win in Knoxville by a point with 25 points, and Charles Mann added 18.

Tennessee finishes the regular season with games against Auburn on the road (Wednesday) and Missouri at home (Saturday).