#17/#17 Tennessee (2-1) vs. #18/#20 North Carolina (3-1)
Sunday, November 21st, 2021 | 2:30pm CT
Uncasville, CT | Mohegan Sun Arena | TV: ESPN
Uncasville, CT – The 17th-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team plays its second game of the weekend at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Sunday, taking on No. 18 North Carolina at approximately 2:30pm CT at Mohegan Sun Resort.
Fans can catch Sunday’s game on ESPN and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analysis) will have the call.
In its opening game of the weekend in Connecticut, Tennessee fell to No. 5 Villanova, 71-53 on Saturday. Junior guard Santiago Vescovi tied a career-high in scoring with 23 points, but the Vols shot 33.3 percent from the field as a team and were unable to overcome a 20-point halftime deficit.
Sunday’s matchup is the 12th all-time between Tennessee and North Carolina and the third of the Rick Barnes era. The Vols and Tar Heels played a tightly-contested home-and-home series during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The Tar Heels won the first game, 73-71, in Chapel Hill, as well as the return trip to Knoxville the following season, 78-73.
After concluding the weekend in Connecticut, Tennessee heads back to Knoxville for a pair of home contests, starting with a matchup against Tennessee Tech on Friday. Tip-off is set for 2:00pm CT on SEC Network+.
Tennessee Series History vs. North Carolina
Tennessee trails its all-time series with North Carolina, 1-10, dating to 1911.
The Vols’ lone win over the Tar Heels was an 84-56 victory in Knoxville on January 3rd, 1949.
Spanning the last two meetings—in 2016 and 2017—Tennessee has led for 68:02 of 80:00 total minutes (85 percent). But the Vols lost both contests, with an average margin of 3.5 points.
North Carolina has been ranked for each of the last four meetings.
This will be the sixth time these programs have met at a neutral site. The series has been contested in Atlanta (twice), Austin, Maui, and New York City.
A native of Hickory, North Carolina, Rick Barnes owns a 73-75 head coaching record against current members of the ACC, and he is 6-12 in his career vs. UNC.
About Tennessee Vols Basketball
After tying his career-high with 23 points Saturday against Villanova, junior guard Santiago Vescovi is now Tennessee’s leading scorer this season, averaging 16.7 ppg.
In his first year as a starter, junior forward Olivier Nkamhoua is nearly averaging a double-double with 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.
43 percent of Tennessee’s points this season have been scored by first-year Vols (101 of 237).
Auburn transfer Justin Powell has given the Vols a solid scoring punch off the bench. He is shooting .500 from 3-point range and is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 9.7 ppg.
Tennessee’s 15 first-half points Saturday against No. 5 Villanova stands as UT’s lowest points total in any half during the Barnes era.
First-year Tennessee assistant coach Justin Gainey regularly faced North Carolina during his collegiate playing career at NC State from 1996-2000.
Tennessee and its fanbase are quite familiar with all three opposing teams in this Hall of Fame Tipoff field. The Vols played Purdue in 2017 and 2019, faced North Carolina in 2016 and 2017, and clashed with Villanova in 2017.
This weekend’s games mark just the second and third contests the Vols have ever played in the state of Connecticut. UT’s only previous appearance in The Constitution State was a 72-61 loss to eighth-ranked UConn in Hartford on January 22nd, 2011.
A Win Would
Stand as Tennessee’s 15th win over an AP top-25 opponent during the Rick Barnes era.
Prevent the Vols from owning a win percentage at or below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2016-17 season (16-16).
About the North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina enters Sunday’s matchup with Tennessee coming off of a 93-84 loss to No. 6 Purdue on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Prior to Saturday’s loss to Purdue, North Carolina had racked up wins over Loyola Maryland, Brown and College of Charleston.
In Roy Williams’ final season as head coach in 2020-21, North Carolina posted an 18-11 (10-6 ACC) record, earning a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Former Tar Heel player (1988-92) and assistant coach (2012-21) Hubert Davis was selected to replace Williams at the helm of the North Carolina program.
Like Tennessee, North Carolina has experienced a major roster shift this season, welcoming seven new players to its team.
Three of those seven new players are Division I transfers—grad student Brady Manek (Oklahoma), sophomore Dawson Garcia (Marquette), and junior Justin McKay (Virginia).
Three returning players—junior forward Armando Bacot and sophomore guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love—are North Carolina’s captains. Bacot (first team) and Love (second team) were both preseason All-ACC selections.
Tennessee and North Carolina played a tightly-contested home-and-home series during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The Tar Heels won the first game, 73-71, in Chapel Hill, as well as the return trip to Knoxville the following season, 78-73.
Tennessee’s Last Meeting With North Carolina
20th-ranked Tennessee came up short against No. 7 North Carolina, 78-73, before a sold-out crowd of 21,678 at Thompson-Boling Arena on December 17th, 2017.
The Volunteers led for 37:10 of the contest, but a late 11-3 scoring run pushed the defending national champion Tar Heels to the win.
Eventual (2019) NBA Draft pick Grant Williams led five Vols in double-figure scoring with 15 points. James Daniel III finished with 15, Jordan Bowden had 12 and Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone chipped in 10 points each.
After a turnover with 1:25 left, Schofield hustled to force a crucial turnover on the inbounds play by UNC. Tennessee took possession, and Williams got the ball near the free-throw line and drove to the paint for a basket with 1:09 left to give UT a 70-67 lead.
North Carolina responded by getting to the foul line, converting both free throws and then forcing a UT turnover on the ensuing inbounds attempt. Kenny Williams dropped a massive 3-pointer for the Tar Heels with 32.7 seconds left to give UNC a 72-70 advantage.
The Vols struggled to find a basket in the second half, shooting just 30 percent (11-36) from the floor. Bowden hit a three to with six seconds remaining to make it a one-possession game, but North Carolina drained a pair of free throws in the final moments to put the game away.
The Vols had active hands-on defense in the opening half, nabbing six steals and forcing 12 turnovers that led to 15 points. Tennessee went into halftime with a 38-32 lead.
Guard Lamonté Turner led the Vols’ rebounding efforts with a career-high nine boards.
Fulkerson Shinded AT UNC As a Freshman In 2016
Then a true freshman, John Fulkerson shined during Tennessee’s heartbreaking 73-71 loss at seventh-ranked North Carolina on December 11th, 2016.
Making his fourth career start (in his eighth collegiate game), Fulkerson scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with four rebounds, one assist, one block and a pair of steals in 24 productive minutes.
The Vols outshot the Tar Heels (.519 to .397), held an eight-point lead at halftime and led for 30:52.
Four days later, Fulkerson suffered a season-ending injury (dislocated elbow and fractured right wrist) while attempting to take a charge against Lipscomb. He was later awarded a medical redshirt.
Fulkerson, played his high school ball at The Christ School in Arden, North Carolina, near Asheville.
Barnes, Smith Shared Tense Moment at 1995 ACC Tournament
Rick Barnes and legendary UNC head coach Dean Smith were central figures in a tense and memorable moment in ACC Tournament history on March 10th, 1995.
During an ACC Tournament quarterfinal game at Greensboro Coliseum, Tar Heels star Jerry Stackhouse was fouled by Clemson’s Iker Iturbe while attempting a layup with 3:10 left to play.
Smith then pointed at Iturbe and yelled something at him. Barnes, the Clemson head coach at the time, immediately charged toward Smith and had to be restrained by officials. Barnes received a technical.
Carolina went on to defeat Clemson, 78-62.
Asked after the game what he said to the officials that led to his technical foul, Barnes said. “‘I want you to bring him down here. I want you to hear what I’m going to say to him.’ I told him, ‘You coach your team and I’ll coach my team. You don’t have any right talking to my players.'”
Said Smith after the game: “Where I was wrong was to point a finger at a player. I’ve done that three times in my career, but in each instance, I don’t want my player getting hurt because of a hard foul.”
Boost From The Bench
Through three contests, Tennessee’s bench is averaging 27.3 points per game. The Vols’ reserves are outscoring the opponents’ reserves by 16.3 points per game.
Justin Powell has scored in double figures off the bench in two of UT’s three games.