When last we met ETSU opened with a 13-0 run before Donnie Tyndall's Vols locked it down, holding an excellent three point shooting team to 61 points as the Bucs went 13 of 32 from the arc and 7 of 16 from elsewhere in a 71-61 Tennessee win. This isn't the same heave-and-hope squad from last year which finished 16-14 (8-10 SOCON). But they do come with Steve Forbes, the former Bruce Pearl assistant who was on our bench for the last five years of his run. Forbes has them off to a 5-5 start, including a 69-68 win at Georgia Tech (who beat the Vols 69-67) and an 84-64 loss at UNC Asheville (who the Vols beat 82-78).
The Bucs are led by Cincinnati transfer guard Ge'Lawn Guyn, who at 18 points per game and 45.6% from three could get in a shootout with Kevin Punter. Fellow guard T.J. Cromer averages 14.8 points. This game will be much more to Tennessee's liking from a match-up standpoint, but that doesn't mean the Bucs are incapable of landing enough blows to win this thing. ETSU comes in 246th in KenPom, but Forbes should command plenty of respect in this building and you know you'll get a little something extra from the boys up I-81.
Tennessee is looking to remain undefeated at home and to continue to win the games they're favored in, with an impressive strength of schedule keeping them in NIT conversations as conference play approaches. For the Vols to stay in those conversations, they need to take care of business here. Keep an eye on the minutes and production of Kyle Alexander in the post, coming off one of his better games against tremendous competition at Gonzaga.
It's been always entertaining with these Vols; we'll see what we get tonight at 7:00 PM, online-only on SEC Network+.