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Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt: Preview and Game Thread

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They’ve shown flashes over the last couple of weeks.

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee is back in action tonight at home, taking on an opponent that they’ve already seen an beaten once this year. Vanderbilt will head east, looking to avenge their embarrassing loss to the Volunteers a few weeks back.

Tennessee beat the Commodores by 21 points, ending their 1,080 game streak of a three-pointer made in the process. That was perhaps rock bottom for Vanderbilt, as this once proud basketball program continued its long SEC losing streak.

But finally, two weeks later, Vanderbilt snapped that streak against LSU. It was a 99-90 win for the ‘Dores, a sign of progress under first year head coach Jerry Stackhouse. The Commodores have been without star guard Aaron Nesmith throughout SEC play, throwing a curveball at Stackhouse as he tries to pull Vanderbilt out of the basement of the SEC.

To his credit, his team is getting more competitive. That win against LSU was huge, but the Commodores have given scares to both Florida and Kentucky over the last two weeks. Vanderbilt is just 9-16 overall and 1-11 in conference play, but they’ve been showing signs of life lately. Tennessee better be ready to roll.

Key Players

Junior Saben Lee: 17 points per game, 4 assists per game. 47 percent from the field.

Freshman Scottie Pippen Jr.: 11 points per game, 34 percent from three-point range

Freshman Dylan Disu: 6.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game

Key Stats

  • With Clevon Brown out with a knee injury, Vanderbilt absolutely cannot rebound the basketball. The Commodores rank 387th in the nation in rebounds per game. We’ve seen Tennessee struggle on the boards as well, but that shouldn’t be the case tonight.
  • Vanderbilt is also one of the worst defensive teams in the nation, ranking just 303rd in points allowed to this point. They rank 219th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency rankings.
  • Tennessee has won five in a row over Vanderbilt.

Tennessee Storylines

At this point in the season, it certainly feels like Tennessee is playing for a bid in the NIT. They may have a tough road to even get there with what’s left on the schedule. Two games left against Auburn, at Kentucky, at Arkansas and Florida will follow tonight’s matchup against Vandy.

John Fulkerson has emerged as a primary offensive option over the last several weeks and should find plenty of room to operate tonight. Santiago Vescovi continues to settle in, quickly becoming the sparkplug of this offense. Jordan Bowden? Well, his rough senior season continues. His inconsistent shooting has hurt Tennessee all season, and it has shown no signs of getting any better lately.

Tennessee’s offense ranks in the bottom third of the NCAA. As we’ve seen, that lack of scoring can make them vulnerable against just about any team they play. It showed up again late against South Carolina this weekend. As a reminder, Tennessee went into the halftime break against Vanderbilt in Nashville with just a 21-20 lead.

While Vanderbilt is a team that Tennessee should absolutely handle, they shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Vegas Odds

Tennessee -12.5

Total: 138

Tennessee and Vanderbilt will tip-off on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.