Tennessee (7-3) vs. Jacksonville State (4-7)
Saturday, December 21st, 2019 | 12:01pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena
Knoxville, TN – No. 21 Tennessee Vols men’s basketball returns home to Thompson-Boling Arena for a weekend bout with Jacksonville State. Saturday’s tipoff is slated for 12:00pm CT on SEC Network+.
Saturday’s game is available online via WatchESPN and on any mobile device through the ESPN app. Fans can log on to WatchESPN at espn.com/watch. Michael Wottreng, Steve Hamer and Kasey Funderburg will have the call.
Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertlekamp describing the action.
Big Orange Santa will be making his appearance at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to get their picture with the holiday’s most iconic man on The Summitt.
Last time out, the Vols dropped their second consecutive game, falling 78-66 at Cincinnati on Wednesday night. Junior John Fulkerson impressed in the loss, scoring 14 points on six-of-eight shooting from the field, while recording a career-high four steals. Freshman Davonte Gaines put in 17 solid minutes off the bench, finishing with four points and a season-high three steals.
The lead performer for the Vols was senior Jordan Bowden who poured in 13 points, while dishing off a season-high six assists. Bowden is currently riding a streak of 16 consecutive made free throws dating to UT’s victory over Alabama State (11/20/19).
This will be the first meeting between the Vols and Gamecocks on the collegiate hardwood, with Tennessee holding a 59-2 overall record against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference. Tennessee has already played one OVC oppoenent this year, taking down Murray State, 82-63 on November 12th.
Tennessee will be looking to avoid its first three game losing streak since Feb. 22 through March 1st of the 2016-17 season when the Vols dropped consecutive contests to Vanderbilt, South Carolina and LSU. A win would also give head coach Rick Barnes his 700th career victory, making him the 22nd coach to reach 700 wins, while giving him the seventh most wins among active Division I head coaches.
Up next, the Vols will have a week off, before returning to action on Saturday, December 28th for a home matchup with Wisconsin. Tipoff is set for 12:30pm CT on CBS.
Tennessee has never previously faced Jacksonville State on the collegiate hardwood, but the Vols are 58-2 all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Rick Barnes is 5-0 in his career against current members of the OVC.
A Win Would
Be Rick Barnes‘ 700th career head coaching victory.
Give Tennessee a 55-17 record as a ranked team (AP rankings) during the Barnes era.
Prevent UT’s first three-game losing skid since February 22nd through March 1st of the 2016-17 season (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, LSU).
Give the program a 212-132 record in the 2010s as the decade draws near to a close.
JSU is located in Jacksonville, Alabama—an entirely different city and state than the site of Tennessee’s upcoming football bowl game, which will be played in Jacksonville, Florida, on January 2nd.
There are currently four Division I schools that start with J: Jackson State, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville State and James Madison.
After establishing themselves as a top-10 defensive team entering this week, the Vols had an uncharacteristically poor defensive showing at Cincinnati Wednesday. Tennessee allowed the Bearcats to shoot 56 percent as a team, and UC became the first UT opponent to score 70 points this season.
Tennessee is ranked No. 21 in both the AP and the coaches poll this week.
Tennessee leads the SEC and ranks 13th nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 57.6 ppg.
The Vols were a perfect 17-for-17 at the free-throw line Wednesday night at Cincinnati.
Over its last two games, Tennessee is 7-for-41 (.171) from 3-point range. The Vols look to break out of the slump Saturday in the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena.
Junior John Fulkerson is shooting a team-best .662 from the field while averaging a career-best 11.4 points per game this season.
Junior forward Yves Pons has blocked at least one shot in every game this season and has a team-high 21 blocks thus far.
True freshman Josiah-Jordan James leads the Vols and ranks 12th in the SEC with 6.3 rebounds per game. He is the top-rebounding freshman in the league.
About the Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Jacksonville State is coming off an incredibly impressive 2018-19 campaign. Last season saw the Gamecocks finish with an overall record of 24-9, a 15-3 mark in Ohio Valley play and a third-place league finish behind OVC powers Belmont and Murray State. However, their loss in the semis of the OVC Tournament saw their season end without a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Jacksonville State, like Tennessee, took part in the 2019 Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida. In the Sunshine State, the Gamecocks took down Chicago State before falling in the fifth-place game to Chattanooga.
JSU’s bright spot has been sophomore guard De’Torrion Ware, who is the Gamecocks’ leading scorer (11.5 ppg) and rebounder (6.3 rpg).
JSU assistant coach Chase Richardson is seen as a rising star in the ranks of collegiate coaching. Following the 2016-17 season, which saw the Gamecocks win the OVC and advance to the NCAA Tournament, Richardson was placed on the NABC’s 30-under-30 list. Current UT assistant Kim English was placed on this same list in 2017-18 during his time as an assistant at Colorado.
Jacksonville State is a public, state-funded institution located in Jacksonville, Alabama. It was founded in 1883, originally as a teachers’ college.
Barnes Closing In On 700th Career Coaching Win
Rick Barnes is one win shy of logging his 700th career victory as a college head coach.
With 699 Division I wins to his credit, he ranks seventh among active head coaches. He would become the 22nd head coach ever to log 700 Division I wins.
He is five victories away from recording his 100th win at Tennessee.
Gaines Showing Flashes
True freshman wing Davonte Gaines has shown flashes of potential for the Vols in recent weeks.
He is averaging 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds with a 2.0 assist/turnover ratio in 11.0 minutes per game.
Gaines is shooting 80 percent at the free-throw line (16 for 20) and has made each of his last 10 attempts.
His 1.68 points per shot is the highest on the team.
Both UT Basketball Squads Ranked
Tennessee’s men are ranked No. 21, and the Lady Vols sit at No. 23 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll.
Tennessee is one of 11 schools to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams ranked in the current AP poll, joining Arizona, Baylor, Florida State, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and West Virginia.