Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes knows he’s about to take on another talented group. Texas A&M may be 0-4 in SEC play, but just a few weeks ago they were the 5th ranked team in the nation.
“Anybody in basketball knows that if you’ve got a team that is ranked 5th in the country, they are capable of going on a run and winning the rest of their games. I think our guys understand that,” Barnes said. “I think they now are starting to understand that every night in conference play. They should have already known it, but you would like to think they realize that every night is going to be a battle.”
A&M got their season started with a win over now 2nd ranked West Virginia. They breezed through the rest of their non-conference schedule, only dropping one game to Arizona. Since conference play began, the Aggie have gone from a potential one seed to a projected seven seed in the latest NCAA Tournament projection from Joe Lunardi.
“You’ll see some teams that you thought were going to be terrific and they’ve gotten off to a slow start,” Barnes said. “That’s why you play the whole year. We are just getting started in conference play.”
A winless team in conference play could create a desperate Texas A&M squad. These guys have to make something happen to get their season back on track.
The Aggies are balanced, showing four players scoring over ten points per contest. They are led in scoring by their 6-10, 266 pound center Tyler Davis. The junior big man averages 14 and 8 and will obviously provide a big roadblock for Tennessee star forward Grant Williams.
Forward DJ Hogg also averages 14 points per game. The 6-9 Hogg actually lead the team in three point percentage, shooting an even 45 percent from deep.
Admon Gilder and Duane Wilson will handle the guard spots. Each average 12 points per game.
Texas A&M is one of the bigger teams Tennessee will see all season. Their size extends to the bench, as reserves Robert Williams and Tonny Trocha-Morelos each stand in at 6-10.
That size has created a pretty solid defense for the Aggies this season. They give up just 67 points per contest and rank 3rd in rebounding in the nation. We have seen Tennessee struggle on the boards during a couple of games this year, most notably Auburn down the stretch.
The Vols will have to come ready to fight down low, as the oversized Aggies desperately look to snap out of their losing streak. Should be fun.
TV: SEC Network
Tip-off: 6 PM Eastern
Radio: Vol Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Odds: Tennessee -2.5