Vanderbilt (8-10) at Tennessee (10-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, January 29, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thompson-Boling Arena (21,000) -- Knoxville, Tennessee. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Vanderbilt 5-4, Tennessee 8-2. Away Record: Vanderbilt 2-3, Tennessee 0-5. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt 1-3, Tennessee 2-1. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 2-4, Tennessee 2-4. Series Record: Tennessee leads, 111-70.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling SEC squads are set to meet up at Thompson- Boling Arena on Tuesday night when the Tennessee Volunteers play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Vanderbilt hasn't gotten much going this season, as it sits with just an 8-10 record, and its mark in the SEC has been even worse at 2-4. The Commodores appeared to be back on the winning track with consecutive wins over South Carolina and Auburn, but they fell back to their losing ways on Saturday with a 81-59 defeat at Missouri.
Tennessee's season was a success early on, as it won eight of its first 12 games, which included quality victories over UMass, Wichita State, and Xavier in its non-conference schedule, However, since the start of SEC play it has faltered at 2-4. The Vols are carrying a bit of momentum however, having defeated Alabama at home on Saturday (54-53) to improve to 8-2 at Thompson- Boling Arena.
Tennessee leads the all-time series over Vanderbilt, 111-70, although the Commodores have won three of the past four meetings.
The Commodores fell victim to a back-breaking 32-2 run by Missouri in the first half of their latest game and they could never recover on their way to the 22-point loss. Despite the setback, Vanderbilt actually shot much better from the field (.444) than what it averages this season (.409). Rod Odom led the way with 17 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field including 3-of-5 from 3-point range in the process, while Kedren Johnson netted 11 points.
Scoring points has been a consistent issue for this squad, as it ranks 13th in the league in putting up just 59.8 ppg, which all but spoils its fourth-ranked scoring defense (61.8 ppg). Johnson has been one of the more reliable guards in the SEC this season with 14.9 ppg, but that average has dipped to just 10.2 ppg over the last five contests. Kyle Fuller (10.2 ppg) and Odom (9.7 ppg) do their best to chip in to the lackluster scoring attack.
In a tightly contested matchup with Alabama over the weekend, Tennessee sealed its fate on the winning side of things when a Jordan McRae bucket in the final minute put it ahead for good. Even though the Vols were out-shot from the field (46.7 percent to 42 percent) and made just two 3-pointers, they earned extra possessions by dominating the offensive glass, 15-6, which led to 17 second-chance points. Much of that dirty work was done by Jarnell Stokes, who ripped down a career-high 18 rebounds to go with 15 points for his fifth double-double of the season. McRae also made a lasting impression with 17 points in the triumph.
Like the Commodores, the Vols play outstanding defense, yielding just 61.8 ppg to opponents, but they too have a disappointing offensive attack (64.4 ppg). In the seven games since the calendar has flipped to 2013, McRae has been one of the SEC's elite scorers with 21.6 ppg, which has raised his season's average to a team-best 14.7 ppg. Stokes is an anchor in the paint, putting up 11.1 ppg and 8.1 rpg, while Trae Golden scores 10.4 ppg and has more than twice as many assists (74) as turnovers (35).
Odds are that these two teams are in for a defensive struggle in this one, but with Tennessee boasting better offensive playmakers and the homecourt advantage, it shouldn't have much of an issue dismissing the Commodores.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 64, Vanderbilt 57
01/29 10:40:21 ET