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HomeSports#18 Tennessee Vols Basketball takes on Memphis Tigers at Bridgestone Arena, Saturday

#18 Tennessee Vols Basketball takes on Memphis Tigers at Bridgestone Arena, Saturday

#18 Tennessee (8-2) vs. Memphis (6-4)
Saturday, December 18th, 2021 | 12:00pm ET / 11:00am CT
Nashville, TN | Bridgestone Arena | TV: ESPN2

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsKnoxville, TN – The 18th-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team heads to the mid-state for a neutral site clash with the Memphis Tigers on Saturday at 11:00pm CT at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Fans can catch Saturday’s game on ESPN2 and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Kevin Brown (play-by-play) and Jay Bilas (analysis) will have the call.
 
Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp calling the action. The broadcast is also available on channel 81 on Sirius, SiriusXM and the SiriusXM app.
 
Tennessee (8-2) enters Saturday’s in-state rivalry coming off of a 96-52 win over USC Upstate on Tuesday. Kennedy Chandler notched his first career double-double, scoring 15 points and adding 10 assists. As a team, Tennessee compiled 29 assists—its most in a game since January 4th, 2014.
 
Junior forward Olivier Nkamhoua led the Vols in with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting and in rebounds with eight.
 
Saturday marks the 28th all-time meeting on the hardwood between Tennessee and Memphis. Of the current three-game series between the schools, the Vols and Tigers split the first two meetings—Tennessee won at Memphis during the 2018-19 season and Memphis won in Knoxville during the 2019-20 season.
 
Up next, Tennessee is back at Thompson-Boling for its final game before the start of the SEC play, taking on the Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Series

Tennessee leads its all-time series with Memphis 15-12, dating to 1969.

These teams have met only twice at a neutral site. The Vols won in Oklahoma City in December 1969, and the Tigers logged a double-overtime win in Maui in November 2011.

The Vols are 50-43 all-time against current members of the American Athletic Conference.
Rick Barnes owns a 3-2 record vs. Memphis and a 14-9 record against current members of the AAC.

The Volunteers are 10-9 all-time at Bridgestone Arena.

381 miles of Interstate 40 separate these in-state foes.

This game was originally slated to be played last season, but both teams agreed to postpone it one year so that it could be contested in a full arena.

More than 25 NBA scouts have been credentialed for Saturday’s game.

Layup Lines – Team

According to KenPom, the Vols lead the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 85.6 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.


Tennessee ranks fourth in Division I in assist/turnover ratio (1.80), fifth in assists per game (19.3 apg), and fifth in turnover margin (+7.1).

The Vols also rank among the top 10 nationally in steals per game (10.6 spg, 8th) and scoring margin (+20.6 ppg, 10th).

45 percent of Tennessee’s points this season have been scored by first-year Vols (356 of 785).

The Vols are attempting 8.5 more 3-pointers per game than they did last season (28.4 per game compared to 19.9). In wins, UT is shooting .396 from long range. In losses, that average drops to .164.

UT’s scoring away from home dips to 65.8 points per game, while the team’s 3-point percentage dips to .234.

Layup Lines – Players

Memphis native and Freshman All-America candidate Kennedy Chandler has scored or assisted on 34.8 percent of Tennessee’s points this season.

Chandler’s 5.4 assists per game rank second in Division I among true freshmen.

Justin Powell scored 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting against Memphis last season (playing for Auburn).

Saturday will be John Fulkerson’s 142nd career game as a Vol. That will tie him with Wayne Chism (2006-10) atop Tennessee’s all-time games played list.

In two career games vs. Memphis, Fulkerson averages 7.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals in 27.0 minutes.

Santiago Vescovi made 18 total 2-point field goals in 27 games last season. He’s already made 19 2-point field goals through 10 games this year—many of them layups.

About the Memphis Tigers

Memphis enters Saturday’s neutral-site clash with Tennessee off a home win over No. 6 Alabama on Tuesday, 92-78. Prior to upsetting Alabama, Memphis had lost four consecutive games—a neutral-site clash with Iowa State, back-to-back road games at Georgia and Ole Miss, and a home game to Murray State.

The Tigers’ roster is highlighted by the freshmen duo of Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren—rated the No. 5 and No. 6 overall players in the 2021 class by 247Sports Composite.

Despite the preseason hype surrounding Bates and Duren, senior forward DeAndre Williams is Memphis’ leading scorer through 10 games, pouring in 11.2 points per contest. Williams, a Preseason All-AAC Second Team selection, scored a season-high 20 points Tuesday against Alabama.

Duren is stuffing the stat sheet with averages of 10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. Bates is averaging an identical 10.8 points per game.

Memphis has used six different starting lineups in 10 games this season.

Penny Hardaway is in his fourth season as Memphis head coach, having posted a 69-36 record so far in his tenure.

Prior to this season, Hardaway added Rasheed Wallace and Larry Brown to the Tigers’ staff as assistant coaches.

Wallace’s resume includes 16 years in the NBA, four NBA All-Star selections, and a 2004 NBA title with the Detroit Pistons as a player. Brown, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, is the eighth-winningest coach in NBA history—having served as the head coach for nine different franchises during 26 seasons as an NBA head coach. Brown also won the 1988 NCAA championship as the head coach at Kansas.

Tennessee’s Last Game Against Memphis

A rough shooting night plagued No. 19 Tennessee, as the Vols dropped a low-scoring defensive battle to No. 13 Memphis at a sold-out Thompson-Boling Arena, 51-47, on December 14th, 2019.

UT’s 25 percent (15-for-60) shooting mark from the field was the lowest of the Rick Barnes era.

Despite the Vols’ scoring struggles as a team, freshman Josiah-Jordan James posted a career-high 14 points that led all scorers in the loss.

The Vols and Tigers battled evenly to begin the second half after Memphis took a one-point lead into halftime. Memphis gained a bit of separation at the 12:03 mark after Tyler Harris and D.J. Jeffries made back-to-back threes to put the Tigers in front, 37-33.

After a 3-pointer from Jordan Bowden and a conversion on a contested layup from John Fulkerson, Tennessee took its first lead in more than eight minutes of game time at 43-42 on an Yves Pons’ jumper in the lane with 5:56 remaining.


Over the next four minutes, the lead changed hands four times before Memphis’ Damion Baugh hit a corner 3-pointer at the 1:43 mark.

With Tennessee trailing, 49-47, with 20 seconds remaining, Pons missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Tigers grabbed the rebound. Alex Lomax then made two free throws to seal it.

Despite a sluggish start from the field, Tennessee built a 17-5 lead over the game’s first 12 minutes. During that stretch, the Vols held Memphis to a 1-for-13 shooting mark, as the Tigers went more than 11 minutes between field goals.

James paced the Vols early on, scoring Tennessee’s first eight points and 11 of its first 15.

In the first six minutes of action, he also grabbed three rebounds and had a pair of steals.

After UT’s initial spurt, Memphis clawed back, eventually taking a 25-24 lead into the break on a Harris layup as the clock expired.

Three Tennessee true freshmen—James, Drew Pember, and Davonte Gaines—combined to score 17 of the Vols’ 24 first-half points.

Memorable Vols-Tiger Matches

Will Barton scored 17 first-half points to propel No. 8 Memphis to a 10-point halftime lead at the 2011 Maui Invitational, but Tennessee rode forward Jeronne Maymon in the second half to force overtime, and the Vols eventually fell in double overtime by a score 99-97 on November 22nd, 2011. Maymon drew national attention with his gutsy 32-point, 20-rebound effort. He grabbed nine offensive rebounds, shot 8-of-15 from the floor, and was 16-for-17 at the foul line.

On January 5th, 2011, the Volunteers had their highest point total ever in the Memphis series when they defeated the 21st-ranked Tigers 104-84. It was also the most points allowed by the Tigers in a regulation game since the 1987-88 season.

UT’s win at the FedEx Forum on December 31st, 2009, snapped a 23-game home win streak for the Tigers.

When the Tigers and Vols met in Memphis on February 1st, 2008, they were ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the national polls. In what was the most-watched college basketball game in ESPN history (5.28 million viewers), Tennessee toppled Memphis 66-62 to earn the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking.

UT’s History vs. Penny

During his two-year collegiate career at Memphis (then Memphis State), Penny Hardaway averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.

He starred for the Tigers during the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. Memphis State faced Tennessee in each of those years, with the coach Wade Houston’s Volunteers defeating Penny’s Tigers both times.

On December 14th, 1991, Tennessee edged the Tigers, 65-64, at the Great American Pyramid. Allan Houston scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and sank two free throws with two seconds left to lift UT to victory. Hardaway finished with 21 point and 10 boards.

On December 6th, 1992, Tennessee upset eighth-ranked Memphis State, 70-59, at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. Allan Houston again led the Vols with 20 points and became UT’s second all-time leading scorer during the victory (he became No. 1 during the next game, vs. Syracuse). Hardaway led the way for the Tigers with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists.

On December 15th, 2018, with Hardaway in his first season as the Tigers’ head coach, Tennessee traveled to Memphis and posted a 102-92 victory at FedEx Forum.

One year later, on December 14th, 2019, Memphis returned the favor by posting a 51-47 victory over the Vols at Thompson-Boling Arena.


Vols Successful On The In-State Circuit

Tennessee has won its last eight games against in-state opponents and is 23-5 vs. in-state foes under coach Rick Barnes.

Those 23 wins Vanderbilt (10x), Tennessee Tech (4x), East Tennessee State (3x), Lipscomb (twice), Chattanooga, Memphis, Tennessee State, and UT Martin.

Fulkerson & Bailey Nearing 1,000-Point Milestone

With 950 points under his belt, super-senior forward John Fulkerson is 50 points shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career.

Senior guard Victor Bailey Jr. also could score his 1,000th Division I point this season. Bailey is sitting on 856 career points. He scored 513 points as an Oregon Duck before transferring to Tennessee after two years.

A total of 52 Vols have scored at least 1,000 points during their time on Rocky Top, with Fulkerson’s former teammates, Jordan Bowden and Lamonté Turner, being the most recent additions to the 1,000-Point Club during the 2019-20 campaign.

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