The Tennessee Volunteers will finish out the month of the December against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles - a team that is located barely over 100 miles west of Knoxville.
It will mark the final game before SEC play begins, but it’s very doubtful that the Vols are overlooking the Golden Eagles.
There is no doubt, however, that Tennessee should handle Tech in Thompson-Boling Arena. It’s not a stretch to say that Tech is a program going through the dreaded “rebuilding phase”. The current roster features 11 players that were not with the program for the 2017-2018 season, including two of the top four scorers on the team.
Conference Record and Standings
- Ohio Valley Conference (FCS)
- 4-8 (0-0) t-10th
- Won last game
- G Hunter Vick : 11.7 PPG, 42.5 FG%, 72.2 FT%, 38.5% 3PT, 2.9 AST, 2.0 TO, 0.3 STL, 30.0 MIN
The true freshman is starting to come into his own. He recorded his second straight 20+ point game against the Savannah State Tigers on Thursday night, shooting 50% from the floor that included 4/7 from three-point range.
Like most freshman, it’s easy to force him into turnovers, so it’ll be fun to see if the Vols’ defense can hold up.
- C Micaiah Henry : 12.3 PPG, 67.0 FG%, 5.5 REB, 55.0 FT%, 1.9 TO, 1.8 BLK, 25.9 MIN
Henry is the team’s leading scorer, but is coming off of a bad game against the Tigers. He shot just 3/9 from the field and was sixth on the team with eight points.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound junior is a threat around the rim. Expect Kyle Alexander to be the one assigned to stop him.
- F Courtney Alexander II: 8.8 PPG, 42.5 FG%, 8.6 REB, 52.5 FT%, 3.3 TO, 0.8 BLK, 28.7 MIN
Even though he is one of the team’s most inconsistent players, Alexander II has a tendency to turn it on every now and then.
He has four games where he scored in the double-digits. In those four games, he was 52.8% from the field and averaged 12.8 points per game. Both numbers are clearly above his season averages and if the Vols aren’t careful, they could find themselves contending with an unexpected threat.
That’s never a good situation to be in no matter who you’re playing against.
A 91-80 win over the Savannah State Tigers.
The Golden Eagles avenged an early-season loss to the Tigers (3-10) on their home court nine days ago.
As previously mentioned, Vick scored 22 points and was vital in helping Tech get out to an early 14-point lead. 16 of his 22 points came in the first half of the game.
The Tigers were able to lock Vick down in the second half, but all that did was open the door for Malik Martin. He scored 13 of his 20 points in the final twenty minutes of the game while the Golden Eagles’ defense chipped in with 16 turnovers - including nine steals.
This should be an easy one for Tennessee. Like, really easy.
But that doesn’t mean they should take this opponent lightly. Hopefully Rick Barnes will continue to instill the competitive mentality that the Vols have shown all season long against inferior opponents before conference play begins.
If I were a betting man, I’d take the odds on that all day.