Coach Rick Barnes was clearly agitated Saturday night, disappointed by Tennessee’s shot selection at key stages and his marquee players’ inability to rise to the occasion.
Georgia beat Tennessee 73-62 on Saturday afternoon in Stegeman Coliseum. The No. 18-ranked Vols were unable to rise to the occasion against the fired-up underdogs of Athens, Ga.
“This time of year you’ve got to get good play from your key guys,” Barnes said, lamenting Grant Williams’ season-low 5 points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Williams has been getting treatment for back and hip injuries, but Barnes indicated his star player’s performance was not related to any physical ailments.
Barnes was also irritated by Tennessee’s reluctance to work for a better shot after closing to 51-49 with 7:27 left on a Kyle Alexander tip-in.
The Vols missed their next 4 shots — 3 of them potential go-ahead 3-point attempts — before James Daniel turned the ball over by stepping on the baseline with 5:46 left.
The Bulldogs responded with an 8-2 run, essentially putting the game away.
“We had it down to 2 [points] and took 3 straight 3s, and you could argue they were open but that’s not what you need,” Barnes said. “They just outplayed us from there on. We didn’t do anything well the last 5 minutes.”
Barnes was not happy with the free-throw disparity, either, as Georgia was 27 of 38 from the free-throw line and Tennessee was just 10 of 15.
The Vols were whistled for 27 fouls, while Georgia had 15 fouls.
“I’m curious to see the tape,” Barnes said, “because we were trying to drive the ball, too.”
Tennessee has lost two of three games for only the second time this season.
The Vols will be trying to avoid the types of finishes it has had during Barnes’ first two campaigns. Tennessee was 3-7 in the last 10 games of the past two seasons.
“If the guys we are counting on don’t step up and play,” Barnes said, “we’ll be in these kinds of games.”
Tennessee returns to action at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday against Florida at Thompson-Boling Arena, then travels to play at Ole Miss at 1 p.m. ET next Saturday.
Did you know
The Vols have lost five straight in Athens, not winning there since 2011, when Tony Jones was filling in for a suspended Bruce Pearl as head coach.