#19 Tennessee (8-2) vs. #6 Arizona (11-0)
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 | 6:00pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: ESPN2
Knoxville, TN – The 19th-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team is back inside Thompson-Boling Arena for its final game before the start of conference play, taking on No. 6 Arizona Wednesday at 6:00pm CT.
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. Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analysis) will have the call.
Tennessee (8-2) enters Wednesday’s non-conference showdown coming off of an eight-day break between games after Saturday’s game against Memphis in Nashville was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols within the Memphis program.
Wednesday marks just the fifth all-time meeting between Tennessee and Arizona, and first since the 1998-99 season opener. The teams have not met in Knoxville since 1982. It will also mark just the second time in program history that the Vols have played a Pac-12 school ranked in the top 10.
Tennessee leads its all-time series with Arizona, 3-1, dating to 1956.
The UT Vols are 2-0 against the Wildcats in Knoxville, with wins in December of 1956 and 1982.
Tennessee also defeated Arizona in Tucson in 1983.
Arizona’s lone win in the series was a one-point triumph at the 1998 BCA Classic in Albuquerque.
First-year Tennessee assistant coach Justin Gainey was an assistant coach at Arizona from 2018-20.
Tennessee freshman Jahmai Mashack’s older brother, Kwesi Mashack, was a cornerback with the Arizona football program from 2014-17.
UT Vols head coach Rick Barnes owns a 1-8 career record against Arizona and is 32-23 against current members of the Pac-12 Conference.
Tennessee is 21-12 all-time against current Pac-12 programs and won at Colorado earlier this month.
Layup Lines – Team
According to KenPom, the Vols rank second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 85.8 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 turnover margin (+7.1) and sixth in assists per game (19.3 apg).
The Vols also rank among the top 10 nationally in steals per game (10.6 spg, 7th) and scoring margin (+20.6 ppg, 9th).
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.
Tennessee ranks eighth nationally in average home attendance this season, drawing 16,073 fans per game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Layup Lines – Players
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.
Wednesday 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.
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 Arizona Wildcats
Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd is in his first season as head coach of the Wildcats after having served as an assistant coach at Gonzaga for the previous 20 seasons.
Lloyd is the first Pac-12 coach since Stanford’s Walter Powell in 1920-21 to win the first 11 games of his career.
At 11-0 overall, Arizona is off to its best start to a season since 2014-15—when it started 12-0.
After beginning the season unranked, Arizona has ascended to a No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll—its highest ranking since the second week of the 2017-18 season.
Arizona’s 11 wins this season have come by an average of 28.2 points per game. The Wildcats have only played two games that finished within single digits—a four-point neutral site win over Wichita State and a four-point road win over Illinois.
Freshman guard Bennedict Mathurin, a projected first round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, leads the Wildcats in scoring with 17.4 points per game. Mathurin is one of eight international players on Arizona’s roster.
Another projected 2022 NBA Draft selection, sophomore forward Azuolas Tubelis, is averaging 16.1 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Tennessee junior guard Santiago Vescovi has a history playing with three players on Arizona’s roster. Vescovi played at the NBA Academy Latin America with Mathurin and junior center Oumar Ballo, while he played with sophomore guard Kerr Kriisa at a Basketball Without Borders camp.
Tennessee’s Last Meeting With Arizona
Arizona’s Jason Terry (no relation to current Wildcats star Dalen Terry) scored 26 points to lead the 18th-ranked Wildcats to a 73-72 victory as ninth-ranked Tennessee missed a flurry of last-second shots to open the 1998-99 season in the BCA Classic at “The Pit” in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Vols had rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to take a three-point lead (66-63) with 6:10 remaining.
Two free throws by Eugene Edgerson gave Arizona a 73-70 lead with 2:04 left to play.
But Tennessee point guard Tony Harris keyed another Vol comeback by hitting a jumper off an offensive rebound to make it 73-72. Harris then forced Terry into a five-second violation Arizona’s next possession.
Harris, who hit a career-high seven 3-pointers en route to a career-best 25 points, had a layup blocked out of bounds with 10 seconds on the clock. The Vols had several shots on the rim just before the buzzer, but none fell through the net.
To support Terry’s game-high 26 points, Arizona’s A.J. Bramlett logged 11 points and 10 boards. Eventual NBA Champion and Olympian Richard Jefferson—then a freshman—finished with three points and two rebounds.
Wednesday’s Arizona game tips off a four-game stretch that features three opponents in the top 25 of both the NET and KenPom ratings.
Tennessee’s schedule from the Arizona game through January includes six games against AP Top 25 teams.
TEAM NET KENPOM AP POLL
Arizona 1 7 6
at Alabama 24 17 10
Ole Miss 118 91 NR
at LSU 3 10 17
Back-To-Back Top-10 Opponents
Should Alabama remain in next week’s AP top 10, the Vols will play back-to-back AP top-10 opponents for the first time since facing No. 6 Duke and No. 8 Memphis at the 2011 Maui Invitational.
John Fulkerson Will Tie UT’s Games Played Record Wednesday
By taking advantage of a sixth (COVID) year this season, John Fulkerson is poised to break Tennessee’s program record for career games played.
RANK PLAYER, YEARS GP
2 Wayne Chism, 2006-10 142
2 John Fulkerson, 2016-pres. 141
3 Cameron Tatum, 2008-12 138
4 Josh Richardson, 2011-15 136
5 Kyle Alexander, 2015-19 135
T-6 Jordan Bowden, 2016-20 132
T-6 Admiral Schofield, 2015-19 132
Next Up For UT Vols Basketball
Following its game against Arizona, the Tennessee men’s basketball team begins SEC play with a road game at Alabama on Wednesday, December 29th. Tip-off is set for 8:00pm CT on ESPN2.