Fresh off of a 1-1 weekend at the Emerald Coast Classic, Tennessee returns home to Knoxville for a final tune-up game before welcoming the Memphis Tigers to town.
The Opponent? Florida A&M
The Rattlers have struggled out of the gates, sitting at 0-6 on the season. USC, Seton Hall and Kansas State are responsible for three of their losses, but they’ve also dropped games to Hawaii, Pacific and South Dakota.
Kenpom ranks them as the 340th best team in D1 after six games. Tennessee ranks 22nd in those same rankings. The current spread opened at 30 points.
The Rattlers offer a balanced attack, but guard MJ Randolph stands out. He leads Florida A&M in scoring and rebounding, averaging 10 and 5 each game. The 6-4 guard makes most of his plays at the rim, so watch for Tennessee to look to keep him out of the paint tonight.
Tennessee is still settling in with a new look rotation, which Rick Barnes is still trying to nail down. The starting five seems set, but the Vols need more out of their bench. As Barnes notes, Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden and Josiah James are handling quite a few minutes right now.
“I think we need them both,” Barnes said Monday, speaking of Davonte Gaines and Jalen Johnson. “I do. I still think we’ve got to get minutes cut down with both Lamonte and Jordan and even Josiah some. We’d like to keep those minutes around 28-30 if we could, but that will depend on those guys to be quite honest with you.”
Expect Barnes to work both Gaines and Johnson plenty tonight.
It’s also another opportunity for Drew Pember and Olivier Nkamhoua to settle in a bit. Both freshman forward have found themselves playing a decent amount of minutes with Uros Plavsic ruled ineligible and Zach Kent leaving the program. Tennessee needs both up to speed and confident ahead of SEC play.
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: SEC Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Radio: Vol Network
Odds: Tennessee -30