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#10/#10 Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech
Friday, December 18th, 2020 | 6:01pm CT
Knoxville, TN – The 10th-ranked Tennessee basketball team returns to action for a Friday night matchup with in-state foe Tennessee Tech. Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is scheduled for 6:00pm CT on SEC Network+.
Fans can catch Friday’s action on SEC Network+, an online platform through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Roger Hoover and LVFL Andraya Carter 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 rolled past Appalachian State, 79-38. The 38 points allowed by the Vols was the fewest in the Rick Barnes era and UT’s 13 steals tied for the most since Barnes took over in 2015-16.
A victory on Friday would be the Vols 400th inside Thompson-Boling Arena, while also improving UT’s record to 18-5 against in-state opponents under Barnes.
Tennessee leads its all-time series against Tennessee Tech 23-1, dating to 1939. All but one of those meetings took place in Knoxville. The Vols beat TTU in an NIT game in Cookeville in 1985.
Tech’s lone win against UT came on December 4th, 1996.
Tennessee owns a 60-2 record against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC).
Vols head coach Rick Barnes is 2-0 in his career against Tennessee Tech (both meetings coming during his tenure on Rocky Top). Barnes is 7-0 as a head coach against OVC opposition.
A Win Would
Give Tennessee 400 wins at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Improve the Vols to 18-5 against in-state opponents during the Barnes era.
Tennessee has won 77 percent of its games as a ranked team during the Rick Barnes era (58-17). This is the 21st time Barnes’ Vols are ranked in the AP top 10.
Friday’s contest is the second of four UT games in a nine-day span.
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.
Tennessee’s starting lineup this season has featured five left-handers.
The Vols starting five has played 22:49 this season, and Tennessee is +26.3 per 40 minutes when that combo is on the floor. The first Vols to sub in? Usually it’s a pair of five-star freshmen.
Tennessee is tied (with Fresno State) for the NCAA lead in scoring defense, allowing just 47.0 points per game.
According to KenPom, the Vols rank third nationally and first in the SEC in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 86.4 points per 100 possessions so far this season. College teams average close to 70 possessions per game.
The Vols are forcing 19.3 turnovers per game while converting those turnovers into 16.3 points per game. Tennessee’s turnover margin stands at +8.7 (10th nationally).
Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has 76 blocks in his last 34 games.
About Tennessee Tech
Tennessee Tech is off to a rough start in its 2020-21 campaign, dropping its first seven games. Tech is coming off two tough losses to open Ohio Valley Conference play, with both coming against Jacksonville State—73-67 Sunday in Cookeville and 74-50 Wednesday evening on the road.
The Golden Eagles have been led by 2020 All-OVC second-team guard Jr. Clay. After missing the first three games of the season, Clay has picked up right where he left off in 2020, averaging a team-leading 13.8 points per game while scoring in double-figures in all but one of his four appearances. His latest outing against Jacksonville State ended a streak of 27 consecutive appearances in which the Chattanooga native scored in double digits.
Joining Clay in the backcourt is sophomore Keishawn Davidson. Davidson has already upped his scoring output by 1.4 points per contest from last season while continuing to share the basketball, ranking second on the team with 2.9 helpers per night. Last season, Davidson and Clay became the first set of TTU players to dish out 100+ assists each since 2001-02, with Clay delivering 121 and Davidson tallying a team-high 131.
Off the bench, junior Amadou Sylla has been big on the boards, averaging a team-best 5.9 rebounds per game. His most impactful performance came in Tech’s season-opener against Indiana, during which he reeled in a game-high 12 boards. He’s also been a force on the offensive glass, pulling in multiple offensive rebounds four times, while averaging just 16.7 minutes per outing.
UT’s Last Meeting with Tennessee Tech
No. 3 Tennessee led its pre-conference finale wire-to-wire, defeating Tennessee Tech, 96-53, on December 29th, 2018, in front of 21,165 fans.
The Vols powered their way past the Golden Eagles, dunking the ball a season-high 12 times and blocking a season-high 12 shots en route to the 43-point victory.
Consensus All-American Grant Williams finished with a game-high 25 points, converting on 10-of-11 attempts from the field. Three other Vols joined Williams in double figures, including All-SEC point guard Jordan Bone, who recorded his second double-double in three games, posting 16 points and a game-high 10 assists.
Tennessee finished the day shooting a season-high 63.8 percent from the field. For most of the game, the Vols were shooting better than 70 percent, including a 74.4 percent mark in the first half.
Kingsport, Tennessee, native John Fulkerson ended the game with a then-career-high 15 points, with eight coming via dunk. The redshirt sophomore shot 6-of-7 from the field, adding four rebounds, two rebounds and a pair of steals. Williams, Fulkerson and Admiral Schofield (16 points) combined for 56 points in the game, shooting 88.5 percent on 23-of-26 shooting.
Pelphrey Keeps Showing Up
Second-year Tennessee Tech head coach John Pelphrey starred as a player at rival Kentucky from 1988-92. He was 6-2 against the Vols as a player.
Tech is the third program he’s faced Tennessee with as a head coach. His coaching record against UT stands at 2-5.
Pelphrey’s first clash against Tennessee as a head coach came on Jan. 4, 2006, when the Vols defeated his South Alabama squad, 87-69, in Knoxville.
Pelphrey joined the SEC head coaching ranks when he was tabbed to lead the Arkansas program prior to the 2007-08 campaign. During his four years with the Razorbacks, he went 2-4 against Tennessee.
He also encountered the Vols numerous times during two separate stints as an assistant coach at Florida under Billy Donovan—first before he was hired at South Alabama, and again after he was dismissed at Arkansas.
Pelphrey worked as a TV color analyst for the SEC Network during the 2015-16 season. He called six UT games, with the Vols going 2-4 in those contests.
Prior to the 2016-17 season, Pelphrey joined Avery Johnson’s Alabama coaching staff. Tennessee owned a 2-1 advantage in that series during Pelphrey’s tenure with the Tide.
In total, Tennessee owns a 16-24 record when Pelphrey is in the building.
Making Opponents Miserable
So far this season, Tennessee’s defense has given opponents fits, as evidenced by the following data from @statsbywill.
December 8th (after the Vols had only four practices following a two-week layoff): Tennessee held Colorado to its lowest offensive efficiency (0.734) since Nov. 2014.
December 12th: the Vols held Cincinnati to its second-lowest offensive efficiency (0.786) in five years.
December 15th: Tennessee held Appalachian State to its fifth-lowest offensive efficiency (0.642) since 2002.
Three Straight FS Makes? Struggle Is Real
Only three times this season has a Tennessee opponent strung together at least three consecutive made field goals against the Volunteers’ smothering defense.
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