Another year, another high profile early season tournament for Tennessee’s men’s basketball team.
The No. 17 Vols (5-0) take on Florida State (5-1) in the Emerald Coast Classic on Friday night, marking the first meeting between the two schools in men’s basketball since 1989. Tennessee leads the all-time series at 5-3, but it’s been 30 years since the two programs have met on the hardwood.
Tennessee’s defense has been the story of the team to start the year. The Vols lead all 14 SEC teams in blocks per game at 6.8, and UT is only giving up an average 55 points a game to opponents. No team has scored more than 63 points against the Vols to start this season. Florida State, meanwhile, has a pretty potent offense, averaging 80.8 points a contest and ranking in the top 50 in all of college basketball in points per game and field goal percentage.
The Seminoles lost their season opener to Pittsburgh, but they’ve won five-straight games since, including a 63-51 victory over Florida. Both Tennessee and FSU have one common opponent this season, and that’s Chattanooga. The Vols just faced the Mocs earlier this week, winning an ugly 58-46 contest. Florida State beat Chattanooga 89-53 back on November 20th.
Florida State has a strong post presence thanks to 7-foot-1 freshman center Balsa Koprivica, who averages 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. The Seminoles are led by two guards, however, as Devin Vassell (12.3 PPG) and Trent Forrest (12.2 PPG) lead the team in scoring. Four different Seminole players average double digits in scoring. Tennessee can boast the same thing, however, as four different Vols are averaging over 10 points a game to start this season.
Though the Seminoles aren’t ranked, they received the highest amount of votes in the latest AP Poll of any team not ranked, ostensibly making them the No. 26 team in the country. They’re currently ranked No. 16 in the KenPom rankings, a few spots ahead of the Vols (No. 21).
The winner of Friday night’s game will play the winner of the Purdue vs. VCU game in the Emerald Coast Classic on Saturday. The loser of Friday’s contest will play the loser of the Purdue-VCU match-up on Saturday as well.
If you couldn’t make it down to Niceville, Florida for the tournament, here’s how you can watch or listen to the Tennessee vs. Florida State game tonight.
Tip-Off: 7:00 Eastern, November 29th, The Arena at Northwest Florida State College (Niceville, FL)
TV: CBS Sports Network (Brad Johansen, Steve Lappas, Justin Miller)
Streaming Online: CBSSports.com
Radio: Vol Network
Line: Florida State (-1)