The Tennessee Volunteers have kicked off a new era of basketball with a 3-0 start so far this season. Rick Barnes picked up his first top 25 victory of the season over the weekend, downing the Washington Huskies in Toronto 75-62. The win was an important one, perhaps signalling that this current group of Volunteers might just be better than most around the country thought.
Tennessee shot up to No. 20 in the AP Poll after the win. Now they’ll get a couple of breathers before their next test against Florida State next week.
Alabama State is the next opponent for Tennessee tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Hornets are 0-3, taking losses to Gonzaga, Missouri State and Houston so far. In two games against a couple of good teams in Gonzaga and Houston, Alabama State lost by 31 and 28 points, respectively.
The line for tonight’s game favors Tennessee by 29.5.
Guard Tobi Ewuosho is the player to focus on tonight for Alabama State. The 6-5 senior guard leads the team in scoring, putting up 14 points per game so far. He’s also the team’s leading rebounder.
Alabama State ranks 314th in the country of 353 total teams, according to KenPom. Tennessee has moved up to 17th in those rankings after their win over Washington.
In a night that’s probably not going to feature much drama, it presents an opportunity for Rick Barnes to get some minutes for his bench players — a part of this team that’s very much unsettled right now. Barnes stuck with his starters for much of the second half against Washington, but that’s a formula that won’t always bring success.
Tonight offers a chance to give Davonte Gaines, Zach Kent and Drew Pember to get a little more comfortable. Maybe it also gives Josiah James an opportunity to run point without Lamonte Turner on the floor. Tennessee has to get a little deeper, particularly in the frontcourt. Against these Hornets, the Vols have a chance for some development.
Tip-off time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
TV Channel: None (SEC Network+)
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Radio: Vol Network
Odds: Tennessee -29.5