Talk about two teams who could use a win in a bad way.
Tennessee (8-5, 0-1 SEC) travels to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Missouri Tigers (8-5, 0-1) for their second SEC match-up of the season. Both the Vols and Tigers are 8-5 on the year, and both lost their SEC openers over the weekend. Tennessee fell 78-64 at home to LSU while Missouri lost 71-59 on the road to Kentucky.
That’s not where the similarities end for these two teams, though.
The Vols are averaging 66.9 points per game. Missouri is averaging 67.3 points. Tennessee is giving up just 59.6 points a contest, and the Tigers are allowing 56.8 points a game. The Vols are shooting 42.6 percent overall as a team, while Missouri is making 43.1 percent of their overall attempts. Tennessee plays with the 320th tempo in the country per KenPom, averaging 65.9 possessions a game. Missouri’s tempo ranks 290th at 66.9 possessions a game.
To say these two teams are evenly matched on paper is an understatement. The only major difference is that Missouri returns seven of their top nine scorers from last season while the Vols had to replace four of their five starters from last year and lost their fifth returning starter when point guard Lamonte Turner elected to have season-ending shoulder surgery.
Another area the two teams share a bond is on their coaching staffs. Missouri is led by former Vol head coach Cuonzo Martin, and former Vol All-SEC forward Jeronne Maymon is on Martin’s staff as a graduate assistant. Former Missouri player and former All-Big 12 performer Kim English is on Rick Barnes’ staff at Tennessee.
The Vols got a boost when freshman mid-year enrollee point guard Santiago Vescovi started in his first career game on Saturday against LSU, scoring 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from three while bringing down six rebounds and totaling four assists. But Vescovi also had nine turnovers and didn’t play great defense, but Tuesday night’s game is an opportunity to build off his strong debut.
Vescovi will need help from a struggling Jordan Bowden, who has made just three of his last 25 field goal attempts over his last two games. Freshman Josiah-Jordan James, meanwhile, posted a career-high 15 points against LSU and is averaging 10.2 points over his last six games after not scoring in double figures in his first seven games of his UT career.
For Missouri, the Tigers are led by junior guards Dru Smith and Mark Smith, who are averaging 11.7 points and 11.5 points, respectively. Mark Smith leads the team in rebounding at 4.8 per game, and Dru Smith averages 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game. Junior forward Jeremiah Tilmon — who stands in at 6-foot-10 — averages 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds a game. He also averaged 1.3 blocks a contest.
The Vols won their last match-up with Missouri on the road, and Tennessee holds a slim 8-7 edge in the overall series between the two teams.
If you couldn’t make the trip over to Missouri, here’s how you can watch or listen to tonight’s Tennessee vs. Missouri game.
Tip-Off: 7:00 Eastern, January 7th, Mizzou Arena (Columbia, MO)
TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart and Andy Kennedy)
Streaming Online: ESPN.com/watch or ESPN app
Radio: Vol Network
Line: Missouri (-5)