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Tennessee Volunteers vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Opponent Preview

Can Vanderbilt repeat history?

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Tennessee
The Commodores will play the role of home underdog Wednesday night.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

SEC play continues on as the Tennessee Volunteers travel to Memorial Gym to play the Vanderbilt Commodores Wednesday night. Vanderbilt is currently 0-5 in conference play, but a win over the #1 ranked team in the country would certainly be a boost for a very disappointing season.

If you’re a Vols or Commodores fan, Wednesday night’s matchup will strike a very familiar tone.

The Vols took on the ‘Dores in Nashville the last time they were the top-ranked team. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived ride at the top as Tennessee went down to their cross-state rival that night.

Obviously, these are two different teams that will face off on Wednesday, but you better believe that the Vols better come prepared to play against a hungry and determined Vanderbilt squad.

Conference Record and Standings

  • Southeastern Conference
  • 9-8 (0-5) 14th (last)
  • Lost last five

Impact Players

  • F Simisola Shittu: 13.6 PPG, 49.7 FG%, 63.6 FT%, 7.6 REB, 0.7 BLK, 2.5 TO, 2.1 AST, 28.2 MIN

Vanderbilt’s highly-touted freshman has lived up to the billing so far this year. He leads the team in scoring and in rebounds, but can also play defense. In other words, he can pretty much do just about everything.

He is extremely talented for his size and can move like a point guard. He also excels in transition, making him quite the unique talent.

Just like Kyle Alexander, Shittu is also from Canada. It will be fun to watch them go at it on Wednesday.

  • G Saben Lee: 12.4 PPG, 44.7 FG%, 69.9 FT%, 23.1 3PT%, 3.4 REB, 3.5 AST, 2.4 TO, 0.9 STL, 29.4 MIN

Even though he is second on the team in scoring, Lee hasn’t developed this season like many thought he would. His shooting numbers have dropped across the board despite more playing time.

But he’s still one of Bryce Drew’s go-to-guys in the paint and can slice through a defense with ease. Lee will also try to find some success via kick-outs a la Alabama against Tennessee last week.

  • G Aaron Nesmith: 9.2 PPG, 40.9 FG%, 78.8 FT%, 32.9 3PT%, 5.7 REB, 0.6 BLK, 1.4 AST, 1.1 TO, 25.1 MIN

The third key to Drew’s stellar 2018 class, Nesmith is coming along quite nicely this season.

Nesmith possesses all the traits you’d want in a guard. He can read the floor, has a killer jump shot, and can slide back and play defense when needed.

Lee and Nesmith will try and create space for Shittu down low. It will be interesting to see how they plan on doing that, but it could be lethal if properly executed.

Most Recent

Vanderbilt lost their fifth straight SEC game after the Mississippi State Bulldogs handed them a 71-55 beatdown in Memorial Gym.

The Bulldogs never trailed after leading by as much as 15 in the first half. Vanderbilt was able to cut the lead to 29-23 right before halftime, but that was the closest they ever got to tying the score.

The offense continued to struggle, shooting a mere 36.7% from the field for the entire game. Simisola Shittu, Vandy’s leading scorer, finished with just seven points. The team also struggled from the free throw line, evidenced by their 53.8% mark.

Game Outlook

Not only are Vanderbilt’s starters struggling, but the depth isn’t there, either.

That’s a huge problem when you’re playing Tennessee.

This matchup was thought of as potential heavyweight bout during the preseason, but injuries and inefficiencies have plagued the Commodores while the exact opposite can be said for the Vols.

Regardless, unless Vanderbilt finds a ton of offense and a ton of depth by Wednesday - this should be another dominating SEC win for Tennessee.