GAME NOTES: Both the Tennessee Volunteers and the Vanderbilt Commodores will try to extend their winning streaks on Wednesday night when the teams face off in an SEC showdown.
Tennessee has claimed back-to-back wins, most recently going on the road and easily handling Alabama, 76-59, to improve to 5-3 in the SEC. The Vols have won twice as many games as they have lost (14-7) and will be trying for its fourth winning streak of at least three games this season, but they are only 2-4 on the road.
Vanderbilt had been reeling with losses in four of five games prior to its current three-game winning streak, which has allowed it to improve to 4-4 in league play. The Commodores opened up a three-game homestand at Memorial Gymnasium with a 55-49 triumph over Mississippi State on Saturday and are now 8-3 in Nashville this season.
The Vols hold a 113-70 advantage over the Commodores in the all-time series, which includes wins in three straight meetings.
In one of their best all-around performances of the season, the Vols downed Alabama by 17 points on the road over the weekend by shooting 47.9 percent from the floor and 21-of-26 from the free-throw line while holding the Crimson Tide to just 39.2 percent shooting. Jordan McRae was the catalyst in the victory, knocking down 5-of-10 from 3-point range on his way to 26 points. Jarnell Stokes was also outstanding with 22 points and 16 rebounds, while Josh Richardson added 12 points.
Tennessee has made a habit of putting together strong efforts on both ends of the court this season, as it shoots 44.6 percent from the field for 73.8 ppg while allowing just 63.6 ppg on 41.8 percent shooting. The squad also owns an excellent +9.0 rebounding margin and shoots a solid 71.9 percent from the free-throw line. McRae is the top scoring threat with 19.2 ppg, draining 48 3- pointers at a 38.4 percent clip. In the frontcourt, Stokes (14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg) and Jeronne Maymon (11.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg) bring physicality that few other teams in the conference can contend with.
The Commodores built up a lead as large as 13 points in their latest contest, and while Mississippi State climbed back in it and trailed by just four with under two minutes to play, it could never overtake the lead as the Dores held on. They shot a modest 44.7 percent from the field in the low-scoring contest, including just 6-of-25 from beyond the arc, but they earned extra possessions by forcing 18 MSU turnovers. Rod Odom poured in 18 points, Kyle Fuller had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists and Damian Jones finished with 13 points.
Like Tennessee, Vanderbilt plays stellar defense, allowing just 65.7 ppg on less than 40 percent field goal shooting, and on its three-game winning streak it has yielded a mere 60.0 ppg, but unfortunately its offensive production has been below average (67.2 ppg) and its turnover problem has been an ongoing issue as well (-2.9 takeaway margin). Odom paces the squad with 14.3 ppg on 60-of-138 from 3-point range (.435). He also grabs a team-best 6.0 rpg and has nearly one block per game as well. Fuller (11.3 ppg) dishes out 4.1 apg, while Jones (11.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) rounds out the double-digit scorers.
The Vols hope that their latest win will put their road woes behind them. Expect a low-scoring game, but in the end Tennessee's advantage in the frontcourt will wear down the Commodores.
Game Date and Time