Tennessee is looking to bounce back on the basketball court tonight, facing another stiff test from the AAC. The Vols have made the trip north today to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats tonight.
Rick Barnes’ team is coming off one of their worst performances of the year on Saturday, shooting 25 percent from the field in a loss to Memphis. Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner were nowhere to be found for the Vols, who couldn’t overcome their lack of scoring against the Tigers.
Cincinnati offers a chance for Tennessee to get back on track tonight. The Bearcats have struggled recently, still transitioning out of the Mick Cronin era. John Brannen took over for Cronin after he bolted for UCLA, ironically after things fell apart with Rick Barnes and the Bruins.
The Bearcats are 6-4 on the year, fresh off of back to back losses to Xavier and Colgate. Cincinnati has also dropped games to Bowling Green and Ohio State so far this year. They need this one badly for their NCAA Tournament chances, which seem to be in early trouble.
Cincinnati’s scoring starts at the guard position, running through Keith Williams and Jarron Cumberland. Each average 13 points per game and can shoot the basketball. Williams, standing in at 6-5, does a little bit of everything for the Bearcats. He rebounds, forces turnovers and shoots 41 percent from long range.
Keep an eye on Jaevin Cumberland as well, who leads the team in three-point attempts by a large margin. A hot night for him could spell trouble for Tennessee.
Chris Vogt may present an issue for Tennessee in the post at 7-foot-1. He averages 13 points, seven rebounds and a block and a half per game for Cincinnati. John Fulkerson and Yves Pons will be tasked will winning the rebounding battle against the much bigger Vogt. The Bearcats also have 6-8 senior Tre Scott, who plays over 30 minutes per game.
What do we want to see from Tennessee?
Obviously, you want to see both Turner and Bowden show signs of life. Turner is dealing with a shoulder issue, which he actually was treated for last week before the Memphis game. You’d also like to see Yves Pons get going offensively once again, like he started the year.
For this team to truly be great though, I think Josiah James has to continue to develop more confidence. You saw a little flash of that against Memphis, but we need to see more for him to realize his potential. He’s the one guy that can take this team from good to great — hopefully his progress continues tonight on the road.
TV Channel: ESPN2
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Radio: Vol Network