#9/#8 Tennessee (7-1 | 1-1 SEC) vs. Arkansas (9-1 | 1-1 SEC)
Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 | 6:01pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: ESPN2
Knoxville, TN – The ninth-ranked Tennessee Vols basketball team returns to action on Wednesday night, January 6th, 2021 for home bout with Arkansas. Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 6:00pm CT on ESPN2.
Fans can watch Wednesday’s game on ESPN2 or online through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Tom Hart and Jimmy Dykes 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, Tennessee dropped its first contest of the season, falling to Alabama, 71-63, on Saturday night.
The Vols were led by junior Victor Bailey Jr. who scored 16 points, and senior Yves Pons who registered five thunderous second half blocks to keep the Vols within striking distance in the second half.
A victory on Wednesday would be UT’s third straight over Arkansas and would leave head coach Rick Barnes just two wins shy of tying Phog Allen and Don Haskins for 20th on the all-time Division I wins list.
Tennessee Series History with Arkansas
Tennessee leads its all-time series with Arkansas, 22-21, dating to 1936.
The teams split last season’s two meetings, with each squad winning on its home court.
Santiago Vescovi had 20 points and eight assists the last time UT played Arkansas in Knoxville.
Tennessee holds a 13-4 advantage when the series is contested in Knoxville and has won the last two meetings at home.
Rick Barnes is 1-1 in head-to-head coaching matchups with Eric Musselman.
A Win Would
Prevent Tennessee’s first two-game losing streak of the season.
Leave Rick Barnes two wins shy of tying Phog Allen and Don Haskins for 20th on the all-time Division I wins list.
Freshman guard Jaden Springer—the team’s third-leading scorer (10.6 ppg)—is day-to-day after injuring his ankle in the first half Saturday vs. Alabama.
The Vols had shot 50 percent or better in four straight games before shooting just .318 (21-65) in their loss to Alabama.
Overall this season, Tennessee leads the SEC in six team statistical categories, including scoring defense, scoring margin, field-goal percentage defense, turnovers per game, turnover margin and assist/turnover ratio.
Tennessee has won 78 percent of its games as a ranked team during the Rick Barnes era (62-18).
Tennessee (40.8 rpg) has grabbed at least 45 rebounds in five of its eight games this season.
The Vols shot .797 from the foul line before league play began but are shooting .620 from the stripe through the first two SEC games.
Tennessee leads the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 55.0 points per game.
According to KenPom, the Vols also lead the NCAA 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 17.4 turnovers per game while converting those turnovers into 19.4 points per game. Tennessee’s turnover margin stands at +6.9 (ninth nationally).
Tennessee has yet to allow an opposing player to score 20 points this season.
Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has 89 blocks in his last 39 games.
Pons has an incredible nine blocks through UT’s first two SEC games. He blocked five shots in a 5:15 span during the second half of Saturday’s Alabama game.
About the Arkansas Razorbacks
Second-year head coach Eric Musselman has just two scholarship players from his first season at Arkansas who returned for this 2020-21 campaign. Despite the high amount of turnover, the Razorbacks are 9-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC play to begin the season. Arkansas most recently fell at home to #12 Missouri on Saturday afternoon (81-68) for its lone loss of the year.
Arkansas has been prolific on the offensive end, averaging just less than 90 points per game, with six players averaging at least 9.0 points per game.
On the floor, the do-it-all guy for the Razorbacks has been freshman Moses Moody. He leads the team and ranks sixth in SEC in scoring with 16.9 points per game. He also ranks second on the squad in rebounding (6.1 rpg), blocks (0.7 bpg) and steals (1.4 spg) through 10 games. Moody’s 6.1 rebounds per game also ranks in the top 20 in SEC (18th).
Leading the frontcourt has been sophomore Connor Vanover. Vanover has averaged a productive 9.0 points per game and has been a beast on the glass, averaging a team-best 7.3 boards per contest. His rebounding average ranks ninth in the SEC. On the defensive end, Vanover leads Arkansas and is second in the SEC in blocks, rejecting 2.3 shots per game.
Off the bench, the Razorbacks have seen consistent production from junior guard, JD Notae. Notae ranks second on the team in both scoring (15.4 ppg, seventh in the SEC) and assists (2.5 apg), while ranking fifth in minutes with 23.3 per contest, despite not recording a single start.
The University of Arkansas is known for its Senior Walk, an area of more than four miles of sidewalk etched with the name of every UA graduate since 1871.
Last Meeting With Arkansas
37 points from Arkansas guard Mason Jones led Arkansas past Tennessee, 86-69, on February 26th, 2020, at Bud Walton Arena.
For the third consecutive game, senior Jordan Bowden led UT in scoring, pouring in 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, while knocking down four 3-point baskets.
Vols junior Yves Pons finished just short of a double-double, posting 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He also added a block to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one block to 28.
The Razorbacks controlled the game’s opening six minutes, running out of the gates to the tune of a 16-3 run, led by 11 points from Jones.
Just past the midpoint of the opening half, the Vols cut into the Arkansas advantage, using an 8-0 run over a period of 4:25 to bring the deficit to 24-17.
In the half’s final seven minutes, the Razorbacks regained control, increasing their lead to as many as 16 points, taking a 40-27 lead into the halftime break.
Out of the locker room, Arkansas opened the half with a layup from Adrio Bailey, before UT broke off an 11-0 run and managed to cut its deficit to two points, 45-43.
The Razorbacks responded to the Vols’ run, stretching their lead back to double digits and never leading by fewer than nine points over the contest’s final 12 minutes.
Memorable Vol Performances Against Arkansas
Bristol, Tennessee, native Bobby Hogsett scored eight points and added 10 rebounds as Tennessee won its first-ever game against Arkansas, 77-57, on December 27th, 1963, in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The Vols upset No. 13 Arkansas in Fayetteville, 101-91, on February 16th, 1993, thanks to a double-double by LaMarcus Golden (22 points, 11 rebounds).
Cleveland, Tennessee, native JaJuan Smith dropped 32 points on the Hogs during a 93-71 win over Arkansas in Knoxville on February 5th, 2008.
Jordan McRae powered Tennessee to an 81-74 win over Arkansas on January 22nd, 2014, exploding for 34 points—including UT’s final 13—at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Musselman’s Season at LSU Saw Tigers Split With the Vols
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman was an assistant coach on Johnny Jones’ staff at LSU during the 2014-15 season.
The Vols and Tigers met twice that year. LSU defeated UT, 73-55, in Knoxville. Less than three weeks later, Tennessee went to Baton Rouge and managed a 78-63 road win.
Top performers on that LSU squad were forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey.
Donnie Tyndall was Tennessee’s head coach in 2014-15, and Rick Barnes was hired shortly after the conclusion of that season.
20 Elusive For Opposing Scorers
Through 1,600 minutes of basketball this season, no Tennessee opponent has managed to score 20 points.
Only two opposing scorers have scored more than 15 points—Tommy Bruner (USC Upstate) scored 18, and John Petty Jr. (Alabama) scored 17.
Tennessee’s opponents’ top scorer this season averages 13.8 ppg.
Next Up for Tennessee Vols Basketball
The Tennessee men’s basketball team hits the road for just the second time this season, when it travels south to take on Texas A&M. Tipoff from Bryan-College Station is set for 1:00pm CT on ESPN2.