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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    Thompson-Boling Arena has been unkind to Ole Miss in the past, and that trend continued on Tuesday night.

    The Vols started out red hot on offense, and that fast start was more than enough to carry them to victory. Tennessee (12-6, 4-2 SEC) beat Ole Miss (9-9, 0-5) by 25 points, securing a 73-48 win in Knoxville. The Rebels have now lost three-straight games in Thompson-Boling Arena and fall to just 2-15 in Knoxville since 1992.

    Tennessee’s offense was just as impressive as their defense against Ole Miss. The Vols shot 49 percent as a team and put up the most points they’ve scored against an SEC opponent all season. UT also held Ole Miss to under 50 points, marking back-to-back games that Tennessee has held a team to less than 50 points. It’s the fifth time this season the Vols have done so.

    The Vols had four different players score in double figures, and UT totaled 18 assists as a team on 24 made buckets. The defense blocked five shots and totaled six steals, and they held Ole Miss to just 30.2 percent shooting and only 20 percent shooting from three.

    Tennessee jumped out to a quick 21-9 lead in the first 10 and a half minutes of the game, and they never looked back from there. The Vols led 42-23 at halftime, and they didn’t let Ole Miss come back in the second half, extending their lead as the game progressed.

    Here are our five biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s dominating victory over the Rebels.

    The Incredible Fulk

    Tuesday night was John Fulkerson’s night to shine.

    The redshirt junior forward played the best half of his UT career in the first half of Tennessee’s win over Ole Miss. Fulkerson scored 16 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor in the opening half of play. The Rebels would slow him down more in the second half, but not before he could set a new career-high.

    Fulkerson finished the evening with 18 points, the most he’s ever scored in a game as a Vol. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and recorded a double-double, the third of his career and the second this season. He finished 7-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.

    The Rebels had little post presence on the evening, especially with Khadim Sy getting in foul trouble and only playing 12 minutes before fouling out. Tennessee took advantage, as Fulkerson scored a career-high and freshman forward Olivier Nkmahoua finished with 10 points and four rebounds himself.

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    Taking Down Tyree

    Coming into Tuesday’s game, Breein Tyree was averaging nearly 30 points per game in SEC play and was averaging 18.9 points a game on the season. Against Tennessee, Tyree had a brutal start and never really could recover.

    The senior guard finished the game with 18 points after scoring 14 points in the second half, but Tyree was extremely inefficient in his shooting. He finished the game just 7-of-22 and only 3-of-9 from three. Tyree also turned the ball over three times.

    Before taking on the Vols, Tyree dropped 36 points against LSU over the weekend. Against Tennessee, Tyree had his lowest scoring output since before conference play began.

    Against Georgia, the Vols failed to slow down the Bulldogs’ star guard and the SEC’s leading active scorer, Anthony Edwards. That cost them, as Edwards scored 20 points in the first half and helped UGA blow out UT in Athens. On Tuesday, Tennessee was able to limit the SEC’s active second-leading scorer in the first half, and his efforts in the second half were too little too late.

    Block ‘Em All

    Yves Pons is on the cusp of a Tennessee school record.

    On Tuesday, Pons continued his streak of blocked shots, extending that streak to 18 games with three blocks against Ole Miss. The junior forward has blocked at least one shot in every game Tennessee has played this season.

    Pons’ 18-game streak ties CJ Black’s school record for most consecutive games with a block, and Pons is also on pace to break Black’s season record for blocks and blocks per game in a season. Black’s 1997-98 season saw him block 73 shots and average 2.52 blocks a game. Pons currently has 48 blocks in 18 games and is averaging 2.67 per game.

    Couldn’t Take Advantage 

    Ole Miss had plenty of opportunities to grab momentum or cut into Tennessee’s lead, but they rarely made the most of those chances.

    The Rebels dominated the Vols on the boards, especially on the offensive end. Ole Miss ripped down 14 offensive rebounds compared to just four by UT, but the Rebels managed to score only six second-chance points off those 14 offensive boards. Tennessee, meanwhile, scored five second-chance points off four offensive rebounds.

    Tennessee did a much better job of not turning the ball over on Tuesday, something they’ve struggled with all season. But Ole Miss was incapable of scoring whenever UT did give the ball away. The Rebels scored just four points off eight UT turnovers, while the Vols scored 15 points off 10 Ole Miss turnovers.

    100

    Tuesday’s victory is a special one for Rick Barnes.

    With the Vols’ win over Ole Miss, Barnes now has 100 victories as Tennessee’s head coach. The win improved his overall record as UT’s leader to 100-56.

    The Vols were just 31-35 in Barnes’ first two seasons as head coach. Since then, UT has gone 69-21, won a share of the regular season SEC title in 2018, made it to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2019.



      Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

      After a run of domination from 2012-17, Ole Miss hasn’t had much luck against the Vols in recent match-ups.

      The Rebels beat Tennessee six out of the seven times they played between March of 2012 through January of 2017. But since then, the Vols have beaten Ole Miss four-straight times, and they’ll look to make that a fifth-straight win against the Rebels on Tuesday night.

      Tennessee (11-6, 3-2 SEC) hosts Ole Miss (9-8, 0-4) for a late night tip-off in Knoxville on Tuesday. The Vols have won three of their last four games after a rough month of December, while the Rebels have lost five-straight games, including four consecutive losses to start conference play.

      While the Vols have used a strong defense to pick up most of their wins this season, Ole Miss has ridden the hot hand of Breein Tyree. The senior guard is second among active SEC players in scoring, averaging 18.9 points a game. He’s played in three of the Rebels’ four conference match-ups, and he’s averaging an astounding 29.7 points a contest against SEC foes, shooting 50 percent from three in conference play.

      Despite Tyree’s heroics, Ole Miss has yet to win an SEC game this season and have fallen from a 9-3 mark at the end of December to a 9-8 record now.

      Tennessee has beaten Ole Miss in two-straight contests in Knoxville, and they’re 14-2 against the Rebels at home since 1992. The Vols are 42-12 all-time against Ole Miss in Knoxville.

      Take a look at everything you need to know for tonight’s match-up. If you can’t make it to the game, here’s how you can watch or listen to tonight’s Tennessee vs. Ole Miss game.

      Tip-Off: 9:00 Eastern, January 21st, Thompson-Boling Arena (Knoxville, TN)

      TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Mark Wise, Alyssa Lang)

      Streaming Online: ESPN.com/watch or ESPN app

      Radio: Vol Network

      Line: Tennessee (-6.5)



        Tennessee finally put together some offense in the second half against Vanderbilt on Saturday, and the Vols are back above .500 in conference play. Ole Miss, meanwhile, has struggled mightily over the last few weeks.

        The Vols (11-6, 3-2 SEC) host Ole Miss (9-8, 0-4) for a late night tip-off in Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday night. Tennessee has been inconsistent as of late, but they’ve won three of their first five SEC games and look to improve to 4-2 in conference play. The Rebels have failed to win an SEC game so far, and Ole Miss is currently on a five-game losing streak.

        When these two teams met in Oxford last year, madness ensued. Tennessee escaped with a 73-71 victory after Grant Williams hit the go-ahead bucket with four seconds remaining, but it was a controversial charge call after that bucket that stole the show.

        Ole Miss guard Devontae Shuler ran down the court and attempted a three, running into Admiral Schofield. The officials whistled a charging foul on Shuler instead of a blocking foul on Schofield, and Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis lost his cool, tossing his jacket to the floor and yelling at the officials.

        The result: A technical foul on Davis and a thrilling win for the Vols.

        This year, both Ole Miss and Tennessee’s rosters look quite different than last year’s teams, but the emotions will likely still be there when the two teams face-off.

        Here are the most important things to know for tonight’s Tennessee vs. Ole Miss game that tips off at 9:00 PM Eastern on the SEC Network.

        One Man Show?

        Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree is one of the top scorers in the SEC. In fact, no other SEC player is averaging more points per game in conference play than the Rebels’ senior this season.

        In three SEC games, Tyree is averaging a whopping 29.7 points per game and is shooting 50.8 percent overall and an astounding 50 percent from three. Tyree has attempted 22 three-pointers in his three conference games, and he’s made exactly 11 of them.

        Despite Tyree’s efforts, Ole Miss has lost every SEC game they’ve played.

        The Rebels have lost five consecutive games, including four-straight to start conference play. For all the scoring Tyree has been able to do — including 36 points vs. LSU — Ole Miss hasn’t found a way to get a conference victory.

        Ole Miss has other players capable of scoring, as three other Rebels average double figures, and Khadim Sy averages 8.9 points a game. But the other scoring options outside of Tyree are far less consistent, and Tyree dominates the amount of shots taken per game.

        Blake Hinson is the most consistent of the second options for Ole Miss, as he’s scored at least 13 points in the Rebels’ last three games. KJ Buffen dropped 20 against Florida but has totaled 20 points in Ole Miss’ other three SEC games combined. Devontae Shuler started strong with 12 and 10 points in the Rebels’ first two SEC games, but he’s followed that up with five and six-point performances the last two times out.

        Tyree only trails Georgia’s Anthony Edwards in overall scoring per game among active SEC players, and he’s also averaging the second-most field goal attempts per game in the SEC, trailing only Edwards in that category as well. The Vols couldn’t slow down Edwards when they played UGA a week ago, but containing Tyree will be just as key for UT to come away with a win on Tuesday night.

        Is Bowden Back?

        Over the last three weeks, Tennessee’s lone active senior, Jordan Bowden, had been struggling to find himself on offense. Dating back to Tennessee’s 68-48 loss to Wisconsin on December 28th, Bowden was shooting just 21.2 percent overall and only 13.2 percent from three, averaging 8.2 points in the process.

        On Saturday against Vanderbilt, Bowden finally seemed to break out of his prolonged slump.

        The senior only played 29 minutes against the Commodores, his fifth-fewest minutes in a game this season, but he put up 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Bowden was much more aggressive on offense, and he wasn’t settling for threes or playing tentatively. Bowden only attempted two three-pointers, and though he missed both, he was 7-of-9 from inside the three-point line and went 7-of-8 from the free throw line.

        Bowden’s 21 points were the most he has scored since fellow senior Lamonte Turner went down for the season, and it marked the most points he had scored since dropping 26 against Murray State in the Vols’ second game of the season.

        If Bowden has, indeed, found his offensive rhythm again, that would prove extremely beneficial for the Vols. Tennessee is undefeated whenever Bowden scores 20 or more points in a game, owning a 6-0 mark when Bowden eclipses 20 points in his career. In fact, UT is 13-0 when Bowden scores 17 or more points in a game in his career, with six of those wins coming against SEC teams and another coming against Washington earlier this season.

        Strengths vs. Weaknesses 

        Outside of Breein Tyree, Ole Miss’ offense isn’t very efficient. Tennessee’s defense, meanwhile, has been stout for most of the season.

        The Rebels as a team are shooting just 38.8 percent from the field in SEC play. That ranks 13th out of 14 SEC teams. Their 44.8 shooting percentage from inside the three-point line ranks 12th in the conference, and their 40 total assists is second-to-last in SEC play. Ole Miss is averaging just 62.5 points per game in conference play. Only Vanderbilt has a worse scoring average against SEC teams this season.

        Tennessee’s defense has been one of the best in the SEC since conference play began. The Vols are holding conference opponents to just a 37.5 percent shooting percentage overall, which is tops in the SEC. Their opponents are making just 42.6 percent of their two-point shots, which is the third-best defensive percentage in the league. The Vols also have the most blocks of any team in the conference in SEC play, totaling 34 in five games. Teams are only averaging 63.4 points a game against the Vols in SEC play, which is also No. 1 in the conference.

        But for all those pluses in UT’s favor, there are several that point to Ole Miss, too.

        The Vols have turned the ball over more than any other SEC team in conference play this season. Tennessee has committed a whopping 82 turnovers in five games, averaging 16.4 turnovers a contest. Ole Miss, however, has the third-fewest turnovers in SEC play at 54, and they’re averaging just 13.5 turnovers a game.

        Ole Miss has also done a great job limiting opponents’ opportunities to score. SEC teams have put up just 211 total shots against the Rebels, the fewest field goal attempts allowed in conference play by any team. Tennessee already plays with one of the slowest paces in the SEC, so coupling that with the Rebels’ style and the Vols’ knack for turning the ball over, and the game may not be as clear cut as you’d think.

        Home Court Advantage 

        Tennessee has flat out dominated Ole Miss when the Rebels have come to Knoxville. The Vols are 42-12 all-time against Ole Miss in Knoxville, but recent history has been even more unkind to the Rebels when they make the travel up to Thompson-Boling Arena.

        The Vols have won two-straight games against Ole Miss in Knoxville, and UT is 14-2 vs. the Rebels in Thompson-Boling Arena dating back to 1992. The only times Ole Miss has left Knoxville with a victory over the last 28 years have been in 2016 (83-60) and 2013 (92-74). Otherwise, Tennessee has owned the Rebels whenever they’ve had the misfortune to come into TBA.

        In every other area, the two teams are almost perfectly even. Ole Miss is 25-27 against the Vols in Oxford, and UT is just 5-7 against the Rebels in the SEC Tournament. But when the game is played in Knoxville, Tennessee almost always wins.



          Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

          Rennia Davis’ game-winning three on Monday night against Alabama helped the Lady Vols move to 15-3 on the season and 5-1 in conference play. With the win, No. 23 Tennessee moved into second in the SEC standings.

          Charlie Creme, ESPN’s primary bracketologist for women’s basketball, released an updated projected NCAA Tournament bracket, and he has the Lady Vols making the Big Dance as an 8-seed in the Waco Region. Creme has Tennessee squaring off with 9-seed North Carolina (13-5, 4-3 ACC) in the opening round. Should the Lady Vols win, they would likely advance to face 1-seed Baylor (15-1, 4-0 Big 12).

          Tennessee is one of seven projected NCAA Tournament teams from the SEC. Creme also projects South Carolina (1-seed), Mississippi State (3), Texas A&M (4), Kentucky (5), LSU (6), and Arkansas (7) to make the field.

          The Lady Vols have won four conference games in a row and seven of their last eight overall contests. During that conference winning streak, Tennessee has beaten Ole Miss by 56, Georgia by 17, and Florida by 28. The thrilling win over Alabama propelled Kellie Harper to win No. 300 as a head coach. It also ended a five-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide.

          Tennessee now dips out of conference plays momentarily as the Lady Vols look to continue to build off of the momentum they’ve built. The Lady Vols are hitting the road on Tuesday and headed to Connecticut to renew an old rivalry with a familiar foe on Thursday. Tennessee and No. 3 UConn are scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

          The game, which is a “We Back Pat” contest, will benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

          Tennessee will return home on Sunday to resume conference play. The Lady Vols will square-off with LSU at 1 p.m. The game against the Lady Tigers will serve as the “We Back Pat” game for the Lady Vols this season.



            In this episode of the RTI & VR2 Recruiting Podcast, managing editor Nathanael Rutherford hosted along with Matt Ray of VR2 to discuss the latest in Tennessee’s recruiting efforts. So…what happened with Jay Hardy? What were their reactions to how all that mess went down over the weekend? Now that Hardy is officially off the board, where do the Vols stand with their top remaining 2020 target, Dee Beckwith, coming off his official visit over the weekend? Plus, Tennessee is throwing a Hail Mary and going after five-star running back Zachary Evans. What’s the latest there, and can UT make a move?

            Make sure you don’t miss an episode of the RTI & VR2 Recruiting Podcast! Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts here! And make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for another way to experience the podcast!

              (Photo via Detroit Free Press/John Silas)

              Finally, Tennessee quarterback signee Harrison Bailey has earned his fifth star on the recruiting trail by at least one recruiting service.

              Rivals.com gave their final update to their top 100 prospects in the 2020 class on Tuesday, and Bailey was bumped up to five-star status in the update. Bailey jumped up to No. 30 overall in the 2020 class and is rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the class, coming behind only Clemson signee DJ Uiagalelei.

              “Bailey has been in this discussion for the past year. He has always been a strong passer that put up big numbers, but his off-season training really took his game to the next level,” said Chad Simmons, Rivals’ Southeast Recruiting Analyst. “The Tennessee signee really improved his mobility. He became able to extend the play outside the pocket and continued to throw dimes on the move and down the field. He led his team to a state title, he has always been a natural leader on the field and his improvement this season has moved into that five-star category.

              “Bailey checked a lot of boxes before, and although he is not a real threat to run the ball, he is an elite passer with better mobility, and he is one who will immediately challenge for the starting quarterback position in Knoxville.”

              The 6-foot-4, 224-pound quarterback joins Tennessee with a lot of hype, coming off an impressive senior season at Marietta that capped off a strong high school career. Bailey finished his senior year with 4,674 passing yards, 50 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a 69.8 percent completion percentage on 411 pass attempts. He also ran for three scores and totaled 76 rushing yards. He helped lead Marietta to their first state title since 1967. Bailey threw for 300 or more yards in six games this past season and threw multiple touchdowns in all but three games.

              Bailey finished his high school career with over 11,700 passing yards and over 100 touchdown passes. His passing yardage total is fourth all-time in Georgia high school football history, finishing only behind current Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (13,902), former Clemson star Deshaun Watson (13,077), and former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm (12,745).

              247Sports hasn’t given their final rankings updates yet, so Bailey is still a four-star and outside the top-100 prospects in their rankings. Bailey is the No. 176 overall recruit and No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class per 247Sports, and he’s the No. 124 overall prospect in the composite rankings.

              Per the Rivals’ recruiting rankings, this will be the second-straight year that Tennessee has signed a five-star in recruiting. Last year, Rivals had offensive tackle Darnell Wright rated as a five-star in the Vols’ 2019 class.

              According to the Rivals’ team rankings, Tennessee’s 2020 class currently ranks eighth in the country and sixth in the SEC. The Vols are one of 15 teams to sign at least one five-star prospect per Rivals’ rankings.

              Bailey is expected to compete for Tennessee’s starting quarterback job right away, and he’ll get that shot as soon as spring practices begin in March. Bailey is already on campus as an early enrollee and is taking classes and working out with the team in winter conditioning.