Tennessee (1-0) vs. Cincinnati (2-1)
Saturday, December 12th, 2020 | 11:31am CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena
Knoxville, TN – The 12th-ranked Tennessee Vols basketball team returns to action for a Saturday, December 12th, 2020, afternoon tilt with Cincinnati. Tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena is slated for 11:30am CT on the SEC Network Alternate Channel.
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Paul Sunderland and VFL Dane Bradshaw 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.
Last time out, the Vols took down Colorado in their season opener Tuesday, 56-47. Tennessee used a stifling effort on the defensive end and 11-point scoring outputs from senior John Fulkerson and sophomore Santiago Vescovi to battle past the Buffaloes.
A win on Saturday would give the Vols a 50-43 all-time record against current members of the American Athletic Conference and leave the program just two wins shy of 400 inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
A victory would also improve the Vols record to 57-17 as a ranked team under head coach Rick Barnes.
UT trails its all-time series with Cincinnati, 1-6, dating to 1952. The Vols’ lone win in the series came at home in 1956.
The Bearcats defended their homecourt last season with a 78-66 win over the Vols on December 18th.
This year, Cincinnati welcomes two key transfers in point guard David DeJulius (Michigan) and big man Rapolas Ivanauskas (Colgate).
Tennessee Vols owns a 49-43 all-time record against current members of the American Athletic Conference.
Vols head coach Rick Barnes is 22-20 against AAC opposition.
A Win Would
Give the Volunteers a 50-43 all-time wins over current members of the AAC.
Give Tennessee 398 wins at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee has won 77 percent of its games a ranked team during the Barnes era (56-17). The Vols are 12th in this week’s AP poll.
Thompson-Boling Arena has an adjusted capacity of 4,191 this season. All available ticket inventory sold out quickly in November.
A preseason media poll predicted Tennessee to win this year’s SEC championship.
Seniors John Fulkerson and Yves Pons were both named to the Wooden Award preseason top-50 watch list. Pons also earned a spot on the preseason watch list for the Naismith Trophy College Player of the Year.
In Tuesday’s season-opener vs. Colorado, Tennessee started five left-handers.
Through the games of Wednesday, December 9th, Tennessee led the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 47.0 points per game.
First-year Vols Victor Bailey Jr. (8), Jaden Springer (6), E.J. Anosike (4) and Keon Johnson (4) combined for 22 points Tuesday.
After shooting .360 from 3-point range as a true freshman last season, point guard Santiago Vescovi was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc Tuesday vs. Colorado.
The Vols totaled 12 steals in the win over Colorado (and forced 23 turnovers). Last season, UT logged double-digit steals just three times.
Senior forward John Fulkerson owned Tennessee’s best plus/minus rating in the team’s opener, as the Vols were +12 when he was on the court.
About the Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati under second-year head coach John Brennan is off to a 2-1 start to the young season, with home victories over Lipscomb and Furman bookending a tough 77-69 loss to cross-town rival Xavier.
Prior to the end of the COVID-19-shortened 2019-20 season, Cincinnati had just won a share of the AAC regular-season championship and was poised to make a run through the AAC Tournament and into the Big Dance.
Through three games, the Bearcats have gotten the production they’ve needed from senior guard Keith Williams, who leads the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game. On Wednesday night against Furman, Williams took over, scoring 27 points, pulling in five boards and added two steals and a pair of blocks in the win.
Like with Williams, UC looks for regular production from senior center Chris Vogt. In last season’s contest with Tennessee, Vogt put in quality time in the paint, scoring 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. This year, he is the team’s third-leading scorer with 9.3 points per contest and has been a nuisance on defense, totaling four blocks through three games.
Cincinnati has also already seen a ton of production from junior David DeJulius. The Michigan transfer through three games is the team’s second-leading scorer (10.3 ppg) and the team leader in both rebounding (6.7 rpg) and assists (5.0 apg).
Cincinnati’s student-run newspaper, The News Record, much like Tennessee’s Daily Beacon, is an independently run newspaper that is editorially independent of the university, meaning that any student, regardless of major, is able to work and contribute for the publication.
Last Meeting With Cincinnati
Despite four Vols scoring in double digits and a perfect shooting night from the free-throw line, a late Cincinnati run pushed the Bearcats past Tennessee, 78-66, on December 18th, 2019, at Fifth Third Arena.
Vols senior Lamonté Turner fought through early foul trouble to pour in 12 points, six of which came from the foul line.
Senior Jordan Bowden had a solid night, scoring 13 points and dishing off six assists.
John Fulkerson was efficient from the field, tallying a team-high 14 points and knocking down six of his eight attempts from the field.
The Bearcats jumped out to an early 8-0 advantage, but a 12-2 run by the Vols, during which five different players scored, gave UT its first lead with just over 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
The sides closed the final 14 minutes of the opening half trading baskets, with the largest lead for either team being six points. Heading into the locker room Cincinnati held a slim, 38-34 lead.
Down 46-42 near the mid-point of the second half, a 3-pointer at the top of the arc from Pons, followed by a turnaround jumper from Bowden, gave Tennessee its first lead since the 3:49 mark of the first half.
From there, the squads continued to trade baskets and the lead. Then, with 6:20 remaining, and Cincinnati holding a 58-57 lead, the Bearcats went on a 9-0 run to increase their advantage to 67-57 with just over three minutes to play.
Tre Scott led Cincinnati in both scoring (15) and rebounding (7).
Tennessee Vols’ Depth A Weapon
The stars have aligned for the Vols, as Rick Barnes‘ boasts the deepest roster of his Tennessee tenure during a year in which COVID-19 could sideline players at any time.
10 UT Vols saw action in the season-opener vs. Colorado, and nine of them scored.
Sophomore point guard Santiago Vescovi: “It feels really different with the depth we have in the team right now (compared to last year), knowing that you can go 100 percent every possession on offense or defense and know that the guy coming in will give their all and play at a high level.”
Victor Bailey Jr. Hungry To Contribute
After transferring from Oregon in the summer of 2019, guard Victor Bailey Jr. sat out last season and now has two years of eligibility remaining.
In his Tennessee debut against Colorado (12/8/20), Bailey earned the start and totaled eight points, three rebounds, two assists and a team-high three steals.
Bailey played in 73 games in his two years at Oregon, including eight starts, and averaged 7.0 points in 17.9 minutes per game. As a sophomore in 2018-19, he scored in double figures 13 times and dropped a season-high 20 points on UCLA.
Residents of Austin, Texas, the Bailey family is very familiar with Rick Barnes. Bailey’s mother, 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Tonja Buford-Bailey, was an assistant track coach at the University of Texas while Barnes was leading the Longhorns’ hoops program.
Bailey Jr.’s father, Victor Bailey Sr., was a second-round NFL Draft pick out of Missouri in 1993 (wide receiver).
Under Rick Barnes, Vols Are 56-17 As AP-Ranked Team
Tennessee has played 73 games as a ranked team (AP poll) under head coach Rick Barnes, and the Vols are 56-17 (.767) in those contests.
Up Next for Tennessee Men’s Basketball
Tennessee Vols basketball will play its third of five straight home contests to begin the year when it takes on Appalachian State on Tuesday night, December 15th. The opening tip vs. the Mountaineers is scheduled for 6:00pm CT on SEC Network.