The Tennessee Volunteers will take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday at noon (eastern) in the Bahamas. Let’s take a quick look at Tennessee’s first opponent.
It’s early, but the Purdue offense is cookin’. The Boilermakers have hit triple digits in three of their first four contests of the 2017-2018 season. Their balanced attack features three players — Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards — currently averaging 15 points per game or better.
Through two games for Tennessee, their defense has been the story. Two outstanding first half performances have allowed the Vols to put together back to back 28-0 runs to start the year, but they haven’t faced anything like what they’re going to see against Purdue.
“Our low post defense is going to be tested,” Barnes said on Monday. He’s referring to Vince Edwards (6-8, 225) and Isaac Haas (7-2, 290). Those two will make things tough on a guy like Grant Williams for Tennessee. Williams (6-7, 241) is a bit undersized for what Tennessee asks of him, but he hasn’t let that stop him so far during his Tennessee career. Barnes will need him to play big against the Boilermakers.
Purdue is shooting a staggering 48 percent from three point range (5th in the NCAA) to pace their offense. They are taking over 20 attempts from long range per game, so Tennessee’s defense will be stretched and tested often.
The Volunteers haven’t been too bad from long range either. Their sample size is smaller, but through two games they are shooting over 45 percent, good for 12th in the NCAA. Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner and Admiral Schofield will need those shots to keep on falling if Tennessee has any shot of taking down Purdue.
The 18th ranked Boilermakers hold a big advantage down low, so it’s going to be interesting to see how Barnes manages that. Might we see more of freshman forward Derrick Walker? The 6-8, 238 pound freshman might just be one of the keys to hanging with Purdue from a physical standpoint. There’s only so much that Grant and Kyle Alexander will be able to do.
I’ll be excited to see who Barnes call upon during crunch time. We’ve see plenty of rotation to this point, but I’m guessing that the leaders and playmakers will be pretty clear by the weekend.
Tip-off: 12:00 (Eastern)
TV: ESPN 2
Radio: Vol Network
Odds: Purdue -8