Back in Thompson-Boling tonight, Tennessee will look to get back to winning and perhaps away from playing such close games. Our guests, the Thundering Herd of Marshall, haven't played a regular season game yet. They did beat Bluefield State (nestled beautifully at the Virginia/West Virginia border) in their first exhibition. But then they faced Division II's Newberry College and lost, 101-89. This was apparently a track meet with 20 turnovers for Marshall.
KenPom projects Marshall to play the 16th fastest tempo in all of college basketball, so you'd better double-knot your laces for this one. Tennessee got up and down the floor with Asheville and Georgia Tech and came away with mixed results. But the Herd should present a slightly easier challenge: last year Marshall finished 11-21 (7-11 in Conference USA). They were one of the worst shooting teams in college basketball: 312th in field goal percentage (40.1%), 290th from the arc (31.6%), 319th in free throw shooting (64.8%).
6'5", 240 lbs junior forward Ryan Taylor returns as the leading scorer and rebounder with 14.1 points and 8.6 boards per game last year, which sounds like a job for Armani Moore. The biggest thing to keep an eye on for Tennessee going forward right now:
Barnes hints that Robert Hubbs might have some surgery if knee issues don't clear up soon. Has missed lots of practice time.— Rob Lewis (@Volquest_Rob) November 18, 2015
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but #Vols’ Robert Hubbs isn’t practicing today. He’s sick. Awful month for that kid continues.— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) November 18, 2015
We'll see if Hubbs can go tonight and if his knee continues to be an issue. It's also worth keeping an eye on the minutes for Tennessee's newcomers. Shembari Phillips and Admiral Schofield played 15 and 10 minutes respectively against Asheville, but did not see the floor against Georgia Tech. On the block where the Vols have no choice but to play new guys, it's still been slow getting out of the gate: Ray Kasongo got two minutes at the end of the first half in Atlanta, and Kyle Alexander has played five minutes in both games.
This has left the Vols with essentially a seven man rotation so far, starting the four seniors and Robert Hubbs, then bringing in Detrick Mostella (15.0 minutes) and Jabari McGhee (18.5) to do most of the work off the bench. Can the Vols play at the pace they want to play with just seven guys and a couple freshmen spelling them for 2-5 minutes? We're two for two on cramps and the Vols still have five games in the next 10 days.
Hopefully there's plenty of opportunity to stretch young legs tonight. The Vols and Herd tip at 7:00 PM ET on SEC Network+.