The 11-2 Tennessee Volunteers continue SEC play tonight, set to host their first conference game of the season at Thompson-Boling Arena. They’ll welcome Mississippi State to town, with a 23 game home winning streak on the line.
The Bulldogs have been one of the surprises of the conference so far, cracking the top 25 last week before losing to Drake and Alabama.
Chris Jans, coming over from New Mexico State, has Mississippi State off to an 11-2 start. Their frontcourt is one of the best in the league, anchored by Tolu Smith and D.J. Jeffries. Smith averages 15 points and eight rebounds, while Jeffries adds ten and six. They’re currently No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in scoring.
Senior guard Dashawn Davis adds nearly nine points per game and connects on 45 percent of his attempts from three-point range.
“They know how they want to play,” Rick Barnes said of Mississippi State. “Extremely well coached. Change defenses, play really, really hard switching. Really trying to make you think. The fact of the matter is, they do a terrific job of knowing exactly what they want on the offensive end. And defensively, they do the things that good defensive teams do. They pressure, they’ll mix their defenses and they rebound the basketball.”
Mississippi State ranks 39th in KenPom, highlighted by their 6th-ranked defense. Tennessee has the top-ranked defense, creating the real possibility of a good, ole-fashioned rock fight tonight.
Tennessee is favored by 9.5 points, while the total sits at just 123 points, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
How to watch
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Time: Tuesday, January 3rd. 7 p.m. ET.
TV: ESPN 2
Streaming: ESPNU, ESPN App