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Maui Invitational: Tennessee vs Oregon

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Oregon at Georgetown Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After an inspiring performance in a competitive loss to Wisconsin yesterday, we were hopeful the Vols might be able to steal a win from Georgetown today and ensure another quality opponent tomorrow instead of having to face Chaminade. But then the two-loss Hoyas made preseason #5 Oregon the two-loss Ducks by way of a 65-61 victory, a game in which the Hoyas led by 17 at halftime.

Our friends from Oregon dropped to #13 after a 17 point loss a Baylor, and are now shooting a chilly 27.4% from the arc in four games this year. Last year’s leading scorer Dillon Brooks is returning from injury and saw his first action against Georgetown with 13 minutes off the bench. The bad news for a small Tennessee squad is Oregon has been led by 6’10” Chris Boucher and 6’9” Jordan Bell in his absence, the two combining to average 26 points and 16.3 rebounds per game.

Tennessee continues to get reliable play from Robert Hubbs, and yesterday Shembari Phillips continued to make an early case as the team’s number two option; his 25.7 minutes per game are above all other guard/forwards after Hubbs. The Vols will probably again play 11 or 12 guys in an effort to find separation from the newcomers. If you haven’t seen this team yet, they are noticeably more athletic than last year’s squad. But they struggle to score when not in transition, especially once Wisconsin went zone in the second half yesterday. Yesterday’s effort would be good enough to give them a chance again today; is this young team capable of that kind of consistency on back-to-back days?

We’ll find out at 1:30 PM ET on ESPN2. If the Vols win, they should face UConn tomorrow.