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Tennessee basketball’s first two games of season cancelled

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball suspended all team activities early Monday afternoon after multiple members within the program tested positive for COVID-19, including Vols head coach Rick Barnes.

In its original statement this morning, Tennessee said that a determination on Wednesday’s season-opener against Charlotte would be made by Tuesday. Less than two hours, the program announced that the Volunteer Classic had been cancelled, including UT’s game with Charlotte, and Friday’s game against VCU.

“After consultation with the Knox County Health Department, Tennessee has announced that its men’s basketball games against Charlotte and VCU, scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, respectively, have been canceled due to COVID-19 contact tracing,” Tennessee said in a press release.

“Earlier Monday, the Tennessee program paused all team activities following multiple positive COVID-19 test results among its Tier 1 personnel, which consists of coaches, student-athletes, team managers and support staff. The positive test results were detected during routine COVID-19 surveillance testing, which is conducted three times a week in accordance with NCAA and SEC guidelines.

The basketball program is following SEC, local and university public health guidelines to prioritize the health and safety of all student-athletes and staff as well as the campus and local community.”

Tennessee’s next scheduled game is set for next Wednesday, Dec. 2, against No. 1 Gonzaga in Indianapolis as part of the Jimmy V Classic.

“Tennessee’s participation in next week’s Jimmy V Classic in Indianapolis has not been ruled out at this point,” the press release stated. “A projected activity-resumption date for the Volunteers will be determined following further monitoring.”

The Vols return nine scholarship players from last year’s team that went 17-14 in the regular season and 9-9 in SEC play. Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner and Jalen Johnson are the only departures. Bowden and Turner graduated, while Johnson ultimately transferred to Wake Forest as a graduate transfer.

Tennessee returns 67.7 percent of its scoring from a season ago with Pons back in the mix, according to UT basketball SID Tom Satkowiak. The Vols also return 69.7 percent of their rebounding production, 85.6 percent of their blocked shots, 66.1 percent of their steals, 68.7 percent of their minutes played and 71.6 percent of their starts.

Five-star combo-guard signee Jaden Springer and fellow five-star guard signee Keon Johnson are expected to have a significant impact on the Vols this season. Four-star power forward signee Corey Walker has also impressed since stepping foot on campus.

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