After dropping two games to open SEC play, the Tennessee Volunteers got their season back on track with a win over the Kentucky Wildcats last weekend. I’m not sure it was a must win, but this team needed to rise to the occasion and stop the bleeding, which they were obviously able to do.
With the first league win out of the way, the Vols will head back out on the road tonight against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy is 6-3 on the season at home, taking advantage of that unique Memorial Gymnasium atmosphere. In fact, all of the Commodores’ wins have come in Nashville. They come into this one a disappointing 6-9 overall and 1-2 in SEC play.
Vanderbilt has scored the least amount of points in the SEC to this point, averaging just 71 points per contest. Part of that is Vanderbilt’s lack of success from beyond the arc. When I think Vanderbilt, I think three-balls. The Commodores are shooting just 32 percent collectively from long distance so far this year.
Jeff Roberson and Riley LaChance are each over 40 percent for the year, but Matthew Fisher-Davis is shooting just 33. He leads the ‘Dores with 98 three point attempts on the year. For Vanderbilt to get going, they need more out of Fisher-Davis, who is averaging less points and shooting worse from the field this season.
Roberson is the guy that Tennessee is going to have to keep tabs on down low. He’s Vanderbilt’s leading scorer (14.5 per) and rebounder (8.1 per). Grant Williams and company will have their hands full with the 6-6 senior as they try to defend him down low and on the perimeter. Roberson is third on the team in three point attempts.
Tennessee holds statistical advantages across the board, besting Vanderbilt in points scored, rebounds, assists, blocks and field goal percentages. But make no mistake about it, this is a dangerous team that can still hurt you if they get hot. They beat a pretty stout Alabama team in Memorial just a week ago. They gave No. 10 USC all they could handle early in the year.
Memorial is rarely ever an easy contest, so Rick Barnes better have his squad ready to roll tonight. Tennessee has won two of their last three at Memorial, so we’ll see if they can continue that success tonight.
TV: SEC Network
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Tip-off: 9 PM Eastern
Radio: Vol Network
Odds: Tennessee -2