HOOPS CENTRAL: #5 TENNESSEE AT MISSOURI

Courtesy / UT Athletics

HOOPS CENTRAL: #5 TENNESSEE AT MISSOURI

Courtesy / UT Athletics

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The fifth-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team is on the road for the third time in four games, taking on Missouri in Columbia Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at Mizzou Arena.

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THE LATEST FROM THE VOLS

 Aidoo Named SEC Player of the WeekVols Reenter National Top Five#8/9 Vols Log Dominant 88-53 Win over VanderbiltEverything Orange Podcast: Wade HoustonKnecht Named to Naismith Trophy Midseason Team
Fans can catch Saturday’s game between the Vols (19-6, 9-3 SEC) and Tigers (8-17, 0-12 SEC) on SEC Network. Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Dane Bradshaw (analyst) will have the call.

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

Tennessee turned in a resounding 88-53 victory Saturday night at a sold-out Food City Center to complete a season sweep of its in-state foe, Vanderbilt, for the sixth time in the past seven campaigns.

The Volunteers never trailed the Commodores and led by as many as 41 points, including by 31 at halftime. All five starters scored between 11 and 14 points for the victors, with none playing even 25 minutes.
THE MATCHUP
• Since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012-13, Tennessee is 9-6 in the series, including 9-5 in league competition.
• The Volunteers are 1-3 in their last four outings versus Missouri after winning each of the prior four contests.
• Tennessee’s last six wins over Missouri, from 2/18/17 to 2/22/22, all came by double digits, with half by 20-plus and an average margin of 17.5 ppg.
• Tennessee has won four straight road games against the Tigers and has not lost in Columbia, Mo., since 1/17/18.
• This is the ninth time Tennessee is ranked in its last 10 matchups with Missouri after it was not ranked in any of the first 12.
• After going 25-10 (11-7) and reaching the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 for the first time since 2010, Missouri was picked ninth in the SEC preseason poll.
• Graduate student guard Sean East II is leading the Tigers with 16.0 ppg and 4.2 apg this season.
• Dennis Gates is the only SEC coach Rick Barnes has never beat.

NEWS & NOTES
• Tennessee assistant coaches Rod Clark (Kansas City) and Gregg Polinsky (St. Louis) are both Missouri natives, while UT freshmen Cameron Carr and Cade Phillips graduated together from Link Academy in Branson, Mo.
• Tennessee’s next victory will be its 20th of the season. It would be the 30th such instance in program history, including the fifth in the last seven years under Rick Barnes. It would also be Barnes’ 24th as a DI head coach, moving him into a tie for No. 13 on the all- time leaderboard alongside Jim Calhoun and Kelvin Sampson, the latter of whom he would match for fifth among active coaches.
• In the triumph over Vanderbilt, Santiago Vescovi became the 19th Volunteer to tally 1,500 career points. He currently has 196 steals, just two away from second place at UT and four from 200.
• Josiah-Jordan James’ next point will make him the 40th Vol to reach 1,200. He is also three blocks away from 100, while Jonas Aidoo is just one away from 100. Only 17 UT players have previously hit 100.

DOMINANT DK
• Dalton Knecht is averaging 25.0 ppg in SEC play. The lone other DI player at that mark in league action, in any conference, is the nation’s leading scorer, Denver’s Tommy Bruner, with a 25.7 ppg mark in Summit League games.
• Over the last 11 contests, Knecht has 292 points (26.5 ppg) on 50.3 percent shooting. In the past 19 seasons (2005-24), the only other Power Six players with 290-plus points on 50 percent shooting in an 11-game span of conference play in a single campaign are Luka Garza (2019-20), T.J. Warren (2013-14), Doug McDermott (2013-14), Michael Beasley (2007- 08), Tyler Hansbrough (2007-08), Kevin Durant (2006-07) and J.J. Redick (2005-06).
• Knecht, who has just 17 turnovers in the last 16 games after posting the same number in his first nine, 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).

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. Auburn is a distant second with a .476 (10-11) ledger.
• Tennessee (32) and Alabama (31) and Arkansas (31) are the only SEC teams to play 28-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 co- leading the league in both total victories (163) and winning percentage (.721). 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 (.721). The only other team above even .650 in that time is Kentucky (.6996).
• In SEC play over the same seven-year period, Tennessee (81-38; .681) is second in the league in both victories and winning percentage, trailing just Kentucky (82-37; .689). Only Auburn (77-44; .636) and Alabama (75-45; .625) even 70-plus wins.
• Over just the last three seasons (2021-24), UT owns a 71-25 (.740) overall record. That is good for the most victories and the best winning percentage of any SEC team in that span. Auburn (69-25; .734) ranks second in both categories.

INAM: “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME”
• The Volunteers have posted 20-plus assists 10 times this season. They have 25-plus thrice this season, with a high of 28 against Vanderbilt (2/17/24)
• Tennessee has a 61.4 percent assist rate that ranks No. 13 nationally, per KenPom, through 2/17/24.
• 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 192 games as a ranked team in the AP Poll under Rick Barnes, posting a stellar 143-49 (.745) 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 122-44 (.735) record while ranked in the AP top 20 during Barnes’ tenure, a 91-31 (.746) mark while in the top 15, a 71-22 (.763) 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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