Tennessee (13-9) at Vanderbilt (13-10)
Wednesday, Feb. 11th, 9:00 p.m. ET
Memorial Gym (14,316) • Nashville, TN
TV: SEC Network
Probable Vanderbilt Starters
G-Wade Baldwin IV, 6-3, 195, FR (7.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
G-Riley LaChance, 6-2, 194, FR (12.8 ppg, .397 3FG%)
G-Jeff Roberson, 6-6, 206, FR (4.7 ppg, 3.7 apg)
F-James Siakam, 6-7, 225, SR (8.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
F-Damian Jones, 6-10, 250, SO (14.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Probable Tennessee Starters
G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 200, SR (15.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
G-Kevin Punter, 6-4, 180, JR (10.9 ppg, .411 3FG%)
G-Robert Hubbs, 6-6, 206, SO (6.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
F-Armani Moore, 6-5, 215, JR (10.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
F-Tariq Owens, 6-10, 205, FR, (.8 ppg, .9 rpg)
Setting the Table
The Vols are coming off another close loss – the latest being a three point road defeat to Georgia – and they quickly need to get back on track and find some production from their bench. Tennessee has lost four of their last five games. In each of those losses, the Vols were in the game until the very end despite getting just 8.2 points per game from their bench.
Tennessee is 3-2 on the road in SEC play while the Commodores are 10-3 at home (3-2 in conference).
Vanderbilt is just outside the RPI top-100 (N0. 102) while the Volunteers sit at No. 87 in the NCAA’s latest official rankings.
It’s do or die time for the Vols. They need to go 2-1 in the next three games to insure at least a .500 regular season record and keep dim bubble hope alive. Vanderbilt has won their last two games after dropping their previous seven.
“I think a lot of people make a big emphasis about coaching from the end line. But, let’s be honest, they have a great coach in coach (Kevin) Stallings, and they have had great players for years and years. They have great crowds who get into the games. That’s what makes it hard, the great coaches, the great players, and the challenging environment more so than coaching from the end line. We understand it’s a huge rivalry game. Both fan bases will be very excited. I am sure it will be a passionate and electric environment in there on Wednesday. We will have to play very well to give ourselves a chance to win.”
– Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall on Vanderbilt
Freshman Vol power forward Jabari McGhee is likely out for the season after foot surgery. Junior Guard Devon Baulkman will be playing with a torn ligament in his left shoulder, but he has been effective. Ian Chiles, who missed significant time this season due to toe and shoulder injuries, had surgery on his injured shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.
3 keys for the Vols
1. Bench Production: The Vol bench has been nearly nonexistent the last few games. They’re averaging just 8.2 points per game during Tennessee’s last five outings and the Vols are 1-4 during that stretch. That’s no coincidence. Tyndall’s team is at its best when Derek Reese, Detrick Mostella and Devon Baulkman are threats offensively. They need to produce in Nashville on Wednesday night.
2. Shots, Shots, Shots: Georgia was able to shrink the floor against the Vols because Tennessee simply wasn’t hitting shots. Without a true post presence, the Vols have to hit jump shots to force the defense to extend which, in turn, opens up lanes to the bucket. Vanderbilt hasn’t been a great defensive team this year. They’re allowing conference opponents to shoot 41% from 3-point range – which ranks them last in the league in 3-point defense. Tennessee should get some good looks, they’ll have to knock them down to open up the floor. If they can do that, an upset will definitely be in play.
3. Turnovers: Tennessee’s defense leads the SEC, and ranks 12th nationally, in turnover percentage (which measures how many turnovers a team forces per 100 plays). The Vols have forced four consecutive conference opponents into at least 18 turnovers. Vanderbilt turns the ball over at a high rate and the Vols will have a good opportunity to keep that streak alive. They’ll have to get extra possessions and convert them into points to have a shot at the victory.
KenPom.com: Vanderbilt 66-59
Daniel: Vanderbilt 62-58
Houston: Tennessee 65-57
Reed: Tennessee 68-66