The Tennessee Volunteers dropped a tough one to the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday afternoon. The Vols led for most of the day, but fell short when it mattered the most. The loss dropped them to 7-2 on the season. They'll try to pick things back up tonight as they take on the Furman Paladins in Knoxville.
This Furman group is nothing to scoff at. The Paladins are 9-3, boasting the best record in the SoCon. Their losses have come at Duke (by 29), at Butler (by 17) and against Winthrop at home (by 19).
They've won five in a row since that loss to Winthrop. Furman is powered by Devin Sibley, who averages over 15 points per game. The 6-2 senior guard is a Knoxville native and was named the SoCon player of the year in 2016-17. Guards John Davis III and Daniel Fowler are also averaging double digit points for Furman this year.
Junior forward Matt Rafferty (6-8, 215) anchors the Paladins down low. He's Furman's leading rebounder and no slouch as a scorer, but he will have his hands full with Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams tonight.
From Tennessee's side, it will be interesting to see if James Daniel can stay hot tonight. He finally emerged as a big time scoring option for the Vols against North Carolina, but got into foul trouble in the second half. I want to see one of these guards come to life and separate themselves from the pack. Maybe Daniel is on his way to doing that. Barnes called him his best on-ball defender after Sunday's game, so that's an obvious plus for him going forward.
Daniel needs just two points to hit the 2,000 point mark for his career. That's something to watch for early on tonight.
Tennessee has tonight's game and then a contest against Wake Forest on Saturday before starting SEC play on December 30th against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Location: Knoxville, TN
Tip off: 9 PM ET
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Vol Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Odds: Tennessee -16