Have all those high-scoring games got you scouring YouTube for old Dikembe Mutombo highlights? Then clear your schedule Friday night.
Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Volunteers will travel to D.C. to face the 20th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas in this year’s SEC/Big East Challenge in a game that could have more bloody noses than a Motley Crue tour bus. (Retweet!)
This will Tennessee’s toughest nonconference game this season, and a win on the road (at the Verizon Center) would do wonders for the Vols' tournament resume. Conversely, Georgetown is the surprise team of the year and have a significant advantage over a depleted Tennessee.
For a closer look, here are the key matchups for the Vols and Hoyas.
Oklahoma State essentially sent out an APB on how to shut down the Vols scoring sans Jeronne Maymon. By double- and triple-teaming Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee was forced to rely on its mid-range and perimeter shooting. The result was one of the worst offensive performances in school history (and there have been some bad ones) and a 17-point blowout.
Shutting down Stokes will be top priority for the Hoyas, and their four 6‘8” or taller starters should force Tennessee to score with its aforementioned jump shooting. Mikael Hopkins will be the key defender in this scheme, along with Greg Whittington.
However, a stellar game from Stokes under such adversity will not only affirm his place as a Wooden Award candidate but give the Vols a legitimate shot at earning the upset.
Against UCLA and Indiana, Otto Porter was the Player of the Year.
In just those two games, Porter filled the stat sheet with 33 points, 16 boards, nine assists, seven blocks and five steals. And this just a week after suffering a concussion.
Defending Porter will be a major challenge for the Vols, given his ability to score from anywhere on the court. Tennessee has shown it can shut down opponent scoring, holding UMass and Oakland to just 34 and 28 percent shooting, respectively, and even held Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart to a combined 11-of-28 from the field.
Josh Richardson and Quinton Chievous will likely be Porter’s primary defenders, but Martin may need an “all hands on deck” approach to stopping Georgetown’s stat sheet hero.
This is the matchup where Tennessee will desperately miss Jeronne Maymon, and it’ll likely be the one that decides the game.
Whittington has emerged as the Hoyas' dominant force in the paint. He’s averaging nine rebounds a game, scored in double figures in four of five games this season and can shoot from range if available.
Kenny Hall, however, has yet to put together an impressive game defensively. He has just three blocks and one steal for the season and just one double-digit rebounding effort. He played especially poor against Oklahoma State, and Martin benched him after just 14 minutes on the floor.
Unless Hall can have the game of a lifetime, Tennessee simply has no answer for Whittington in the post without Maymon. If he plays like he did against UCLA, the Vols simply have no chance for an upset.