By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Verizon Center (20,173) -- Washington, D.C. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UT 2-0, Georgetown 3-0. Away Record: UT 0-0, Georgetown 0-0. Neutral Record: UT 2-1, Georgetown 1-1. Conference Record: UT 0-0, Georgetown 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas will try to keep their unblemished home record in tact when they entertain the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday evening as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.
Tennessee has suffered just one loss in five tries this season, falling to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 16, 62-45. The Vols most recently took care of business at home against Oakland on Monday night, 77-50.
Georgetown's season to this point has been highlighted by a run to the championship game in the Legends Classic, where it fought hard against the top-ranked team in the country before losing to Indiana in overtime, 82-72. The Hoyas were able to bounce back nicely from that heart-breaking defeat however, making easy work of Mount St. Mary's in their latest bout, 72-50.
The all-time series between these two squads is tied at 1-1, with Tennessee winning the last matchup on a neutral floor in November of 2008, 90-78.
The key to Tennessee's success on the young season has been due in large part to its efficient shooting (.465) and its ability to win the battle on the boards on a nightly basis (plus-5.4 rebounding margin). The Vols shot a lofty 52.8 percent from the field in their latest win, but the real story was the play of their defense, which allowed Oakland to shoot just 28.6 percent, the lowest opponent's field goal percentage in a game during Cuonzo Martin's tenure as head coach. Jarnell Stokes was nearly perfect on the night, connecting on 7-of-8 from the field en route to 19 points. Trae Golden added 18 points and seven assists, while Kenny Hall narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. Stokes has been the offensive catalyst for UT through five games, averaging 14.8 ppg on greater than 57 percent from the field. Golden (12.4 ppg) hands out more than five assists per contest, while Jordan McRae scores 10.0 ppg from off the bench. Skylar McBee (7.6 ppg) has just 10 field goals, all of which have come from beyond the arc (10-of-24).
Georgetown has been an even better shooting team than the Vols, draining more than 50 percent of its field goal attempts en route to 70.2 ppg, and it has done a stellar job at the defensive end as well (.396 field goal percentage defense). The 72 points the Hoyas put up on Mount St. Mary's may seem like a modest night, but they were able to connect on 30-of-47 field goal tries (.638). Otto Porter continued his fantastic start by netting 17 points on 7- of-8 shooting while adding 13 rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Porter has been an invaluable asset to the team in all facets of the game, averaging 12.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.3 bpg, and 1.5 spg, all while shooting a lofty 57.6 percent from the floor (including 6-of-8 from three-point range). Greg Whittingham also tallied a double-double in the win with 17 points and 11 boards, while Markel Starks netted 15 points and Mikael Hopkins chipped in with a dozen. On the season, Starks puts up 14.0 ppg and Whittingham is a good bet for a double-double on any given night with 13.6 ppg and 9.0 rpg.
Tennessee is a dangerous team both out on the perimeter and in the frontcourt, and it can certainly match Georgetown in terms of physicality, but the Hoyas have been hot to start the season and with the home crowd on their side, they'll be able to come up with a big play down the stretch to claim victory.