Hoops Central: #8/9 Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt

Courtesy / UT Athletics

Hoops Central: #8/9 Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt

Courtesy / UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The eighth-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball is back in Knoxville for a matchup with Vanderbilt Saturday night at Food City Center. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. ET.

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THE LATEST FROM THE VOLS

 Everything Orange Podcast: Wade HoustonKnecht Named to Naismith Trophy Midseason Team#8/9 Vols Cruise to 92-63 Victory at ArkansasVols Earn Ninth Straight Top-10 Ranking#6 Vols Drop Road Decision at Texas A&M
Fans can catch Saturday’s game between the Vols (18-6, 8-3 SEC) and Commodores (7-17, 2-9 SEC) on SEC Network. Roy Philpott (play-by-play) and Pat Bradley (analyst) will have the call.

Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp describing the action.

Tennessee earned a dominant, 92-63, road win over Arkansas Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena. The Vols led for over 35 minutes and by as many as 32 points behind a 23-point, 12-rebound double-double by junior forward Jonas Aidoo, who led all players in both categories.

THE MATCHUP
• Tennessee’s 130 victories over Vanderbilt are its most against any foe. The only other school it has beat triple-digit times is Georgia (100).
• The Volunteers are 12-1 in their last 13 games against Vanderbilt, going back to 1/9/18. The lone defeat was a one-point road setback, 66-65, on a buzzer- beater on 2/8/23.
• This is the 12th time in the last 14 matchups, also dating back to 1/9/18, Tennessee is ranked and Vanderbilt is not.
• UT owns six straight home wins over Vanderbilt, since 1/23/18.
• Coming off a 22-15 (11-7) campaign in 2022-23 that included a spot in the NIT quarterfinals, the Commodores placed No. 11 in the SEC preseason poll.
• Fifth-year guard Ezra Manjon is paces Vanderbilt in both points (14.5) and assists (3.6) per game.
• Tennessee coach Rick Barnes and Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse were both among the 14 new members inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame last year on 4/21/23.

NEWS & NOTES
• The Volunteers won, 75-62, at Vanderbilt on 1/27/24. Dalton Knecht scored 32 points on 13- of-21 shooting to help Tennessee came back from a nine-point deficit with under 1:05 left in the first half. Five UT players had nine-plus points, while only two Commodores hit that figure.
• Tennessee’s 92-63 victory at Arkansas marked its second- largest road triumph over a DI foe in the last 49 seasons (1975- 2024), as well as the Razorbacks’ third-largest home loss of the past 72 seasons (1952-2024). It was the largest margin of victory in series history for either team and UT’s first win at Arkansas since 2/4/09.
• Santiago Vescovi is three points away from 1,500, one appearance from sole possession of third all- time at UT (139), two steals from second (198) at UT and four from 200. Josiah-Jordan James is one offensive rebound from the top 15 (180) at UT and three blocks away from 100, while Jonas Aidoo is four from 100. Zakai Zeigler is one assist away from sole possession of the No. 10 spot at UT (389).

DOMINANT DK
• Dalton Knecht is averaging 26.0 ppg in SEC play. The lone other DI player at even 25.0 ppg in league action, in any conference, is the nation’s leading scorer, Denver’s Tommy Bruner, with a 25.6 ppg mark in Summit League games.
• Knecht put up 27.8 ppg over the last 10 contests. The only other Power Six players to post such a stretch in league action over the last 10 seasons (2014-24) are Markus Howard (2019-20) and Trae Young (2017-18). He scored 22-plus in nine of those 10 games.
• Knecht is on pace to be the fourth Power Six player in the last 36 seasons (1988-2024) to average 20.0 ppg and no more than 1.5 turnovers, joining Keegan Murray (2021-22), Jeremy Hazell (2009- 10) and Hubert Davis (1991-92).
• If Knecht scores 16-plus points against Vanderbilt, he would be the fourth player in the last 13 years (2011-24) to hit that mark in at least 11 straight SEC games in a single season, alongside Cameron Thomas (2020-21), Sindarius Thornwell (2016-17) and Ben Simmons (2015-16).

RACKING UP RANKED VICTORIES
• Over the past four seasons (2020-24), Tennessee leads all SEC teams with 18 AP top-25 wins, good for four more than any other SEC program—Alabama has 14—and tied with Gonzaga and Illinois for sixth nationally. It also paces all SEC schools in AP top- 10 victories with eight, placing co-sixth nationally alongside Purdue and Texas. The Volunteers’ five AP top-five wins in that span lead the SEC and are tied with Arizona, Gonzaga and Michigan State for the most of any team in the country.
• The eight AP top-10 triumphs during that time are: #1 Alabama (2/15/23), #3 Kansas (11/25/22), #3 Auburn (2/26/22), #4 Kentucky (2/15/22), #5 Kentucky (3/12/22), #6 Arizona (12/22/21), #10 Texas (1/28/23) and at #10 Kentucky (2/3/24).
• Over the last four seasons (2020-24), Tennessee has played a league-high 32 games against AP Top 25 opponents, going 18-14 (.563). The Vols are the only SEC team, regardless of number of games, with a winning record against ranked foes during that span, while Auburn’s .500 (10-10) mark is second.
• Tennessee (32) and Alabama (31) and Arkansas (31) are the only SEC teams to play 27-plus ranked foes since the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

WINNING WAYS
• Over the last seven seasons, dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, Tennessee paces all SEC teams in postseason wins (15), while placing a close second in both total victories (162) and winning percentage (.720). In that span, the Vols have claimed a pair of SEC titles, winning the regular season in 2018 and the tournament in 2022.
• In that same seven-year stretch, the Vols are one of only two SEC schools with an overall winning percentage of at least .700, alongside Auburn (.724). The only other team above even .650 in that time is Kentucky (.698).
• In SEC play over the same seven-year period, Tennessee (80-38; .678) is second in the league in both victories and winning percentage, trailing just Kentucky (81-37; .686). Only Auburn (77-43; .642) and Alabama (74-45; .622) even have over 65 wins.
• Over just the last three seasons (2021-24), UT owns a 70-25 (.737) overall record. That is good for the most victories and the second-best winning percentage of any SEC team in that span, trailing only Auburn (69-24; .742) in the latter category.

INAM: “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME”
• The Volunteers have posted 20-plus assists nine times this season, including in eight of the past 15 contests. They have 25-plus twice this season, with a high of 27 against George Mason (12/5/23).
• Tennessee has a 60.2 percent assist rate that ranks No. 22 nationally, per KenPom, through 2/11/24.
• Last season, Tennessee placed second nationally, per KenPom, with a 66.2 percent assist rate. It also logged a 64.9 percent mark in SEC play.

POLL PRESENCE
• Tennessee has played 191 games as a ranked team in the AP Poll under Rick Barnes, posting a stellar 142-49 (.743) record. Over 65.0 percent of the Volunteers’ games since Barnes arrived in 2015-16 have come with the team ranked in the AP Poll.
• Furthermore, UT owns a 121-44 (.733) record while ranked in the AP top 20 during Barnes’ tenure, a 90-31 (.744) mark while in the top 15, a 70-22 (.761) ledger while in the top 10, a 30-9 (.769) tally while in the top five, a 17-2 (.895) record while in the top three and a 7-1 (.875) mark while at No. 1.
• The Vols are 24-20 (.545) in top-25 matchups under Barnes, including 18-13 (.581) with both teams in the top 20, 10-7 (.588) with both in the top 15 and 7-5 (.583) with both in the top 10.

Courtesy / UT Athletics

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