Preview: Tennessee at Ole Miss

    by -

    Willie Carmichael-1-4

    Tennessee (14-11) at Ole Miss (18-8)

    Saturday, Feb. 21st, 7:30 p.m. ET

     Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061) • Oxford, MS

    TV: ESPNU

    Probable Ole Miss Starters

    G-Jarvis Summers, 6-3, 186, SR (13.0 ppg, 4.6 apg)

    G-Stefan Moody, 5-10, 179, JR (15.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg)

    G-Martavious Newby, 6-3, 210, JR (4.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

    F-Sebastian Saiz, 6-9, 233, SO (7.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

    F-M.J. Rhett,6-9, 240, SR (7.1 ppg, .548 FG%)

    Probable Tennessee Starters

    G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 200, SR (15.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg)

    G-Kevin Punter, 6-4, 180, JR (10.6 ppg, .373 3FG%)

    G-Robert Hubbs, 6-6, 206, SO (6.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

    F-Armani Moore, 6-5, 215, JR (10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg)

    F-Willie Carmichael III, 6-8, 210, FR (3.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

    Setting the Table 

    The Vols are in a ” rough patch” as Donnie Tyndall worded it after Tuesday’s loss to Kentucky and need to get back on track to claw back into the NCAA Tournament bubble and, at worst, secure their standing as an NIT team.

    Tennessee has, oddly, played better on the road than at home. They’re 4-2 on the road in SEC play and, in each of their losses, they’ve had a chance to tie the game in the final minute. The Vols are just 2-5 in conference play at home. 

    Mississippi is having a solid season. They stand at 33rd in the RPI (the Volunteers sit at No. 81 in the NCAA’s latest official rankings) and they’re 4-2 at home on SEC play – with losses coming to LSU (75-71) and Arkansas (71-70). In Jerry Palm’s latest projections, they’re in the NCAA Tournament as a 9-seed.

    A win would give the Vols a road win over an RPI top-40 team and keep Tennessee’s slim tournament hopes alive. It would also secure at least a .500 regular season record.

    Quotable

    “I hope our guys will bounce back. I certainly expect them to. We went through a rough patch the last six or eight games. That is part of college basketball. You had some high moments early in the year and now we are going through some tough times here. We have to respond. There is a lot of basketball left to be played. “

    – Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall on his team’s mindset headed into the Ole Miss game

    Injuries

    Freshman Vol power forward Jabari McGhee is out for the season after foot surgery. Junior Guard Devon Baulkman will be playing with a torn ligament in his left shoulder. 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. Robert Hubbs dislocated his thumb against LSU but practiced this week and will play against Ole Miss. He played with his thumb taped against Kentucky but didn’t have it taped during Friday’s practice. Armani Moore is battling an illness and isn’t 100%. He may not start but is expected to play. 

    3 keys for the Vols

    1. Force Uncharacteristic Turnovers: Ole Miss has been the best team in the league at taking care of the ball this season and the Vols simply don’t have the firepower to beat them unless they force a few uncharacteristic turnovers. Tennessee will have a length and athletic advantage at a couple spots and needs to use that to clog passing lanes. Look for the Vols to potentially trap a bit more than normal Saturday night.

    2. Keep Ole Miss off the Line: The Rebels lead the conference in free throw shooting percentage (79%) and really make opponents pay for putting them on the line. Tennessee’s foul issues are well documented. They’ll have to play disciplined defense without fouling to have a shot at the road upset. 

    3. Win the 3-point Battle: Both teams rely on guards for the majority of their scoring. Tennessee has struggled mightily beyond the arc lately – it’s tough to see a path to a Vol upset that doesn’t involve them getting hot from 3-point range, especially with Armani Moore not at 100%. Stefan Moody 8-12 from deep against Mississippi State on Thursday. The Vols can’t let him get hot or they could get blown out.

    Predictions

    KenPom.com: Ole Miss 72-62
    Daniel: Ole Miss 73-64
    Houston: Ole Miss 66-63
    Reed: Ole Miss 70-64