Tennessee snapped a two-game losing streak last week with a close win over Mississippi State and a dominating performance against then-ranked No. 15 Kansas as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Vols freshman guard Jaden Springer returned from injury to help guide Tennessee (12-3, 5-3 SEC) to the wins over the Bulldogs and Jayhawks. Springer averaged averaged 11.0 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the wins and was named the SEC Freshman Player of the Week as a result of his performance.
In UT’s 56-53 win over State, senior forward Yves Pons led the way in scoring with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The freshman duo of Keon Johnson and Springer combined to score 17 points while delivering several key plays late to propel the Vols to victory. Tennessee forced Mississippi State into 18 turnovers on the evening.
Pons also led the way in the 80-61 win over Kansas. He scored a team-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 shooting from the 3-point line, to go along with five rebounds. The Volunteers ripped down 38 rebounds, out-rebounding the Jayhawks by 15 and holding them to zero second-chance points.
UT now turn its attention to Ole Miss. The Vols and Rebels are scheduled to tipoff from Oxford on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Tennessee will then head to Lexington on Saturday for an 8 p.m. tip on ESPN against Kentucky.
Here’s a look at where Tennessee basketball is ranked amongst college basketball polls and media members heading into this week’s games against the Rebels and Wildcats.
AP Poll: No. 11 (+7)
Coaches Poll: No. 10 (+7)
NET Rankings: No. 9 (+1)
KenPom: No. 14 (+4)
CBS’ Jon Rothstein’s 45: No. 16
Rothstein’s “skinny” on UT: “A completely different team with Jaden Springer healthy.”
Gary Parrish’s Top 25 and one: No. 15
Parrish on the Vols: “Tennessee improved to 5-3 in Quadrant 1 opportunities via Saturday’s blowout of Kansas. The Vols will take a two-game winning streak into Tuesday’s game at Ole Miss.”
The Athletic’s Seth Davis: No. 12
Stadium’s Jeff Goodman: No. 13
ESPN’s Jeff Borzello’s Power Rankings: No. 11 (+5)
Borzello on the Vols: “That was a key bounce-back week for the Volunteers, beating Mississippi State and then pummeling Kansas following two straight losses. The one trend developing for Tennessee is the presence of Jaden Springer and the impact he has on the team. The Volunteers are unbeaten with a healthy Springer, as he left the loss to Alabama after just five minutes and missed the defeats to Missouri and Florida. Springer has started only three games this season, but he contributes in a number of ways. This past week, he came off the bench to finish with nine points, four rebounds and five assists, then Rick Barnes moved him into the starting lineup and he went for 13 points, four boards and three assists.”
Andy Katz’s Power 36: No. 23 (-3)
Katz on the Vols: “The Vols desperately needed a quality win and got one by humbling Kansas.”