Tennessee vs. Furman
Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 | 8:00pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: SEC Network
Knoxville, TN – Coming off their first home loss of the season, the 21st-ranked Volunteers will look to bounce back against a hot Furman team Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will tip at 8:00pm CT and will be televised live on SEC Network and streamed online via WatchESPN.
Courtney Lyle (play-by-play) and Dane Bradshaw (analyst) are on the call for the matchup. Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to catch Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp describing the action. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online through AllVols.com.
Tennessee (7-2) fell to No. 5 North Carolina on Sunday after holding a lead for the majority of the contest. The Vols will be tested in their next two matchups, facing teams in Furman and Wake Forest who are playing their best basketball of the season.
UT will look for forward Grant Williams, who is averaging 16.0 ppg and 6.9 rpg, to continue contributing down low and creating opportunities for the Volunteers’ SEC-leading sharpshooters from the perimeter. Jordan Bowden has connected on 60 percent (18-of-30) of his shots from behind the arc to pace the conference.
Another headline going into the game revolves around guard James Daniel III, the NCAA’s active career leading scorer. The senior is coming off a strong performance against the Tar Heels, accounting for a season-high 14 points after knocking down four treys. Wednesday’s contest will be Daniel’s 100th career game, and he only needs two points to break the 2,000-point mark for his career.
The Paladins (9-3) enter the contest riding a five-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight after starting the season 2-2. Over the last four games, Furman has averaged 94.3 ppg. Furman is led by reigning SoCon Player of the Year Devin Sibley, a Knoxville native and Karns High School graduate, who is averaging 15.7 ppg on 49 percent (69-141) shooting to go along with 4.3 rpg and 2.7 apg.
After the matchup, the Vols will head to Winston-Salem, NC to face Wake Forest on Saturday before beginning conference play with a road trip to Arkansas the following weekend.
- Overall: UT leads, 10-0
- In Knoxville: UT leads, 8-0
- In Greenville: UT leads, 1-0
- Neutral Sites: UT leads, 1-0
- Current Streak: UT has won 10 straight
- Last Meeting: UT won, 68-51, in Knoxville, 12/30/94
- Rick Barnes vs. Furman: 4-0
- Rick Barnes vs. Bob Richey: No meetings
Furman starter Devin Sibley is a Knoxville native who graduated from Karns High School.
The Vols are rated No. 11 in the ESPN InsideRPI, with the nation’s seventh-rated SOS.
Tennessee’s two losses this season are to the last two national champions.
Per Ken Pomeroy, the Vols rank fourth in Division I with an assist rate of 68 percent.
Head coach Bob Richey is in his first season leading the Paladins, who are members of the Southern Conference, after spending the previous six years as an assistant on the staff.
Furman’s trip to Rocky Top represents a homecoming for reigning SoCon Player of the Year Devin Sibley. A Knoxville native and Karns High School graduate, Sibley averaged 17.7 ppg while boasting impressive shooting percentages of .522 from the field and .449 from three.
This season, Sibley has paced the Paladins’ offensive attack, averaging 15.7 ppg on 49 percent (69-141) shooting to go along with 4.3 rpg and 2.7 apg.
Junior forward Matt Rafferty has stepped up his play for Furman this year, nearly averaging a double-double with 11.9 ppg and 8.3 rpg. He’s shooting 66 percent (58-88) from the field. He’s also posting 2.7 apg and 1.7 spg.
John Davis and Daniel Fowler also average scoring in double digits each contest, posting 13.1 and 12.0 ppg, respectively.
The Paladins enter the contest riding a five-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight after starting the season 2-2. Over the last four games, Furman has averaged 94.3 ppg.
Last Meeting with Furman
Kevin Whitted came off the Tennessee bench to score 17 points and lead the Vols to a 68-51 win over Furman at Thompson-Boling Arena on December 31st, 1994.
Kevin O’Neill was in his first season as UT’s head coach after replacing Wade Houston.
Whitted scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half as the Vols pulled away from the Paladins late in the game.
Damon Johnson scored a then-career-high 14, and Shane Williams hit 4-of-6 from 3-point range to add 12. Steve Hamer led the Vols with eight rebounds and had nine points.
Steve Harris led Furman with 20 points.
With the Vols leading by seven (55-48) with 5:51 remaining, Tennessee ended the game on a 13-3 run to give UT a 5-3 mark on the young season (the Vols finished with just five total wins the year before).
Vols Remain in Top 25
Tennessee on December 4th made its first appearance in the AP top-25 poll since 2010—nearly seven full years. The Vols landed at No. 24 in that week’s AP poll.
Prior to that week, the last time Tennessee appeared in the top 25 was December 20th, 2010 (19th AP, 18th coaches).
This week, UT stands at No. 21 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the coaches poll.
UT in Rare Ranked Company
The Vols are ranked 21st, and the unbeaten Lady Vols are ranked seventh under coach Holly Warlick.
Other schools with two ranked hoops squads (AP poll) are Baylor, Duke, Florida State, Texas A&M, Villanova and West Virginia.
UT Fourth in NCAA in Assist Rate
According to noted college basketball statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy of KenPom.com, Tennessee ranks fourth nationally with an assist rate of 68 percent (meaning that 68 percent of the Vols’ made field goals have been assisted on).
The teams who rank above UT in assist rate: Sam Houston State (72.3), Davidson (69.1) and SMU (68.5).
The Volunteers average 18.2 assists per game, which ranks second in the SEC and 20th in the country.
Barnes Approaching 1,000th Game
Head coach Rick Barnes—who is in his third season at Tennessee but his 31st season as a Division I head coach—is approaching a milestone.
The Vols’ home game against Texas A&M on January 13th will be Barnes’ 1000th career game as a collegiate head coach.
His 642 wins rank eighth among active Division I head coaches.
UNC was Showcase Game for UT
Last Sunday’s showdown vs. defending national champion North Carolina was Tennessee’s first home sellout since February 17th, 2015. The crowd of 21,678 was the seventh-largest crowd in the NCAA to date this season (fourth-largest non-neutral-site crowd).
The UNC game marked the first time two ranked men’s teams collided at Thompson-Boling Arena since February 27th, 2010, when the 19th-ranked Vols upset second-ranked Kentucky, 74-65.
VFLs and current NBA standouts Tobias Harris (Pistons) and Josh Richardson (Heat) teamed up to purchase 100 tickets for Knoxville-area children’s charities.
A stunning visual was created in Thompson-Boling Arena via a human checkerboard of 21k fans coordinated through CheckerTBA.com.
J-Bird a Bucket away from 2K
Graduate transfer James Daniel III is Division I’s active career scoring leader, sitting just two points shy of 2,000 career points.
Wednesday’s game against Furman will be Daniel’s 100th career game played.
90 of those games, and 1,933 of those points, were scored during Daniel’s standout career at Howard University.