Report: Vols to Play at Kansas in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    Talk about a big-time match-up. Again.

    According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Tennessee will take on Kansas in men’s basketball for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in the upcoming 2019-20 basketball season. The Vols and Jayhawks are just one of many marquee match-ups for the annual event, as Kentucky will face national title game runner-up Texas Tech, LSU will face Texas, and Florida will take on Baylor.

    Tennessee and Kansas just played each other on the hardcourt this past season, with the Jayhawks defeating the Vols 87-81 in overtime in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, New York.

    The Vols and Jayhawks have only played each other four times prior to this upcoming season, but the two have had plenty of memorable moments in the brief series. Tennessee lost to then-No. 11 Kansas 82-67 in Orlando on November 28, 2014 as part of the Orlando Classic, but before that came one of UT’s biggest wins in their program’s history.

    A shorthanded Vol squad hosted No. 1 Kansas in Thompson-Boling Arena on January 10, 2010. The No. 16 Vols just had a handful of players suspended for off the court issues, including star forward Tyler Smith.

    No matter, however, as a late Skylar McBee three sealed the deal for Tennessee, and the Vols upset No. 1 Kansas 76-68 in Knoxville.

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    The only other match-up before that contest came in Lawrence, Kansas. The unranked Jayhawks dispatched No. 14 Tennessee 92-85 on January 3, 2009.

    Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and Kansas head coach Bill Self have plenty of history, as the two faced-off multiple times in the Big 12 when Barnes was the head coach of Texas. The Vols are 0-1 against Kansas with Barnes as their head coach.

    Though the two teams just played each other this past season, both squads will look drastically different when they take the court in Lawrence in the 2019-20 season.

    Tennessee had three players selected in the 2019 NBA Draft in June, and starting center Kyle Alexander graduated and also signed on with a team in the NBA. Backup forward Derrick Walker and redshirt freshman forward DJ Burns also transferred off UT’s roster this offseason.

    Kansas also experienced a lot of change from their 2018-19 roster this offseason.

    The Jayhawks’ leading scorer, Dedric Lawson, is gone. So is their second-leading scorer, Lagerald Vick. Kansas does return starting point guard Devon Dotson and seven-footer Udoka Azubuike, two of their other top four scorers from last season. But former five-star guard Quentin Grimes is also no longer with the Jayhawks.

    Both teams made plenty of additions this offseason to combat those departures, however.

    Tennessee signed five-star guard Josiah Jordan-James, four-star power forward Olivier Robinson-Nkamhoua, three-star forward Drew Pember, and three-star forward Davonte Gaines. The Vols also brought in Arizona State seven-foot transfer Uros Plavsic and Oregon transfer guard Victor Bailey Jr. to fill spots on the roster. While Bailey will sit out the upcoming season, head coach Rick Barnes remains optimistic that Plavsic will be granted immediate eligibility.

    Kansas, of course, had their own set of big-time additions this offseason, too.

    Head coach Bill Self signed a pair of four-stars and just had another four-star commit to him and the Jayhawks last week. Forward Jalen Wilson and forward Tristan Enaruna headline the 2019 class for Kansas, and four-star point guard Dajuan Harris committed to Kansas and reclassified to the 2019 class last week. The Jayhawks also signed three-star small forward Christian Braun and three-star combo guard Issac McBride.

    Kansas also brought in Iowa grad transfer guard Isaiah Moss, who averaged 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 39.1 percent from three in 102 career games with the Hawkeyes. Moss played against the Vols in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, scoring 16 points and bringing down five rebounds in the Hawkeyes’ 83-77 overtime loss to Tennessee in the second round.

    The inclusion of the Jayhawks makes Tennessee’s 2019-20 non-conference schedule a list of “who’s who” in men’s basketball.

    Tennessee will not only travel to Lawrence to take on Kansas, but they also host Memphis and Wisconsin in December as well as traveling to Cincinnati in the same month. The Vols will face Washington in Canada on November 16th, and they’ll take on Florida State in late November in Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic. They’ll then face either Purdue or VCU in the next round of the Emerald Coast Classic.