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Know your Vol rival: Tennessee



Bring your lunch pail.

Tennessee Volunteers (18-11)

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.06 1.00
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.28 1.18
2-PT FG% 48.4% 45.7%
3-PT FG% 32.3% 31.9%
FT% 69.2% 72.8%
True Shooting % 53.4% 51.1%

UT Opp.
Assists/Gm 10.9 11.2
Steals/Gm 4.2 6.4
Turnovers/Gm 13.0 11.3
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.16 1.56

UT Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 10.5 11.4
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 11.9 9.8
Difference +1.4 -1.6

Honestly? Tennessee doesn't have just a ton going for it. They are thin and inexperienced, their defense comes and goes, they lose the ball control battle more often than not, and they can't really shoot very well. But they're on the doorstep of a potential NCAA Tourney bid because they work really, really hard. That's it. That's the recipe. They hit the glass, they get to the line, they try to leverage you into iffy shots, they hit the glass, and they get to the line. They have one of the best rebounders in the country (Jarnell Stokes), they lower their head, and they work. As one would imagine, then, this makes them a pretty good home team. Home crowds tend to love hard work. And let's face it: officials tend to reward it, especially at home.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

UT Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UT Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 46 70 UT
Effective FG% 179 93 MU
Turnover % 180 293 UT big
Off. Reb. % 57 36 MU
FTA/FGA 18 33 push
MU Offense vs UT Defense Ranks

MU Offense UT Defense Advantage
Efficiency 8 102 MU
Effective FG% 60 79 push
Turnover % 117 298 MU big
Off. Reb. % 6 51 MU
FTA/FGA 183 139 UT

Where the Vols are weakest

They don't turn you over (298th in Def. TO%, 340th in Steal%), they can't shoot consistently (they're 144th in 2PT%, they're 243rd in 3PT% -- and that's with Jordan McRae shooting 37% -- and they're 272nd in Off. Block%), they're not incredible passers (303rd in A/FGM), they're thin (248th in Bench Minutes), they're young (204th in Experience -- their four best players are a sophomore, a junior, a junior and a sophomore, and freshmen make up two-thirds of, basically, their three-man bench), and they tend to foul players who make their free throws (329th in Def. FT%), i.e. guards.

Where they are best

Again, they hustle. They rebound (57th in Off. Reb%, 51st in Def. Reb%), they get to the line and get you into foul trouble (18th in FTA/FGA), and they don't give you easy looks on defense (104th in Def. 2PT%, 84th in Def. 3PT%).

Tennessee's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from
    No. 1 Florida (64-58)
    No. 34 Wichita State (69-60)
    No. 44 Kentucky (88-58)
    No. 66 Alabama (54-53)
    No. 80 Xavier (51-47)
    vs. No. 91 UMass (83-69)
    No. 92 LSU (82-72)
    No. 95 Vanderbilt (58-57)
    at No. 95 Vanderbilt (58-46)
    at No. 98 Texas A&M (93-85, 4OT)
    at No. 186 Auburn (82-75)
    No. 190 Oakland (77-50)
    at No. 207 South Carolina (66-61)
    vs. No. 210 UNC Asheville (75-68)
    No. 241 Western Carolina (66-52)
    No. 260 Mississippi State (72-57)
    No. 332 Kennesaw State (76-67)
    No. 333 Presbyterian (78-62)
  • Losses
    vs. No. 15 Oklahoma State (45-62)
    at No. 17 Georgetown (36-37)
    at No. 21 Virginia (38-46)
    No. 40 Memphis (80-85)
    at No. 44 Kentucky (65-75)
    No. 51 Ole Miss (74-92)
    at No. 51 Ole Miss (56-62)
    at No. 66 Alabama (65-68)
    at No. 78 Arkansas (60-73)
    No. 96 Georgia (62-68)
    at No. 96 Georgia (68-78)

Average Score, Vols vs. Top 50 at home: Tennessee 75.3, Opponent 65.3 (+10.0)
Average Score, Vols vs. Top 50 away from home: Opponent 55.0, Tennessee 46.0 (-9.0)

This average is hilarious. Not only is Tennessee about 19 points better at home, but the home games average 140 total points ... and the road games 101. It's also dramatically skewed, of course, to the point where the numbers are basically useless -- the obscenely low-scoring Georgetown and Virginia losses were back-to-back and three months ago (and UT's offense has improved by quite a bit since then), and the home average includes the demolition of Kentucky -- but still.

Tennessee Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Jarnell Stokes (6'8, 270, So.) 15.7 0.55 28.4 MPG, 12.4 PPG (53% 2PT, 56% FT), 9.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 2.0 TOPG
Jordan McRae (6'5, 178, Jr.) 14.7 0.44 33.5 MPG, 16.2 PPG (48% 2PT, 37% 3PT, 79% FT), 4.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.7 TOPG
Trae Golden (6'1, 205, Jr.) 11.4 0.39 29.5 MPG, 12.1 PPG (42% 2PT, 29% 3PT, 78% FT), 4.1 RPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.0 TOPG
Josh Richardson (6'6, 188, So.) 8.1 0.27 30.5 MPG, 7.6 PPG (54% 2PT, 23% 3PT, 67% FT), 4.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.8 TOPG, 2.5 PFPG
Kenny Hall (6'9, 230, Sr.) 6.2 0.31 20.4 MPG, 6.2 PPG (58% 2PT, 71% FT), 4.4 RPG, 1.4 TOPG
Skylar McBee (6'3, 195, Sr.) 3.6 0.14 25.1 MPG, 5.6 PPG (27% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 84% FT)
Derek Reese (6'8, 208, Fr.) 3.6 0.26 13.6 MPG, 3.7 PPG (50% 2PT, 32% 3PT, 67% FT), 2.1 RPG
Armani Moore (6'5, 203, Fr.) 2.5 0.19 13.1 MPG, 2.4 PPG (40% 2PT, 36% 3PT, 58% FT), 2.5 RPG
Yemi Makanjuola (6'9, 250, So.) 1.4 0.18 7.9 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG
D'Montre Edwards (6'6, 206, Jr.) 1.2 0.15 8.0 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG
Quinton Chievous (6'5, 201, RSFr.) 1.0 0.10 9.6 MPG, 1.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: McRae (27%), Stokes (25%), Golden (25%)
  • Highest Floor%: Stokes (41%), Golden (41%), Hall (41%)
  • Highest %Pass: Golden (60%), Moore (52%), Richardson (46%)
  • Highest %Shoot: McBee (53%), Reese (49%), Hall (44%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Stokes (23%), Hall (21%), McRae (13%)
  • Highest %T/O: Hall (15%), Moore (13%), Richardson (10%)
  • The roles on this team are pretty clear. Jordan McRae takes the shots, Jarnell Stokes grabs the misses, Trae Golden makes the passes, Skylar McBee fills in the gaps (a little passing, some open 3's, some defense, few mistakes), Josh Richardson runs around and jumps a lot, and the bench players hit the glass. This is oversimplified, of course, but ... that's pretty much it. If you can disrupt this lineup with foul trouble, the Vols will struggle. But they're a lot better at drawing fouls from you than you are at drawing fouls from them.

Keys to the Game

  1. The Glass. I'm not sure rebounding has been more important to a single game this year. If Tennessee is grabbing rebounds, especially on the offensive end, then that pretty much confirms that they are also drawing fouls, getting points at the line, and softening up Mizzou's lineup on the interior. If Alex Oriakhi can both hit the defensive glass like he has of late (he has a 25% defensive rebounding rate in the last six games, which would be a Top 30 average for the entire season), and if Tony Criswell (21% in the last six games), Earnest Ross (16%), and Keion Bell (14%) can continue to pitch in (strangely, Laurence Bowers has only been at 10% in the last six), then the path to victory is pretty obvious. But if Tennessee is grabbing second chances, drawing fouls from Oriakhi and others, and ensuring that Frank Haith has to play players like Criswell and Ryan Rosburg more, then Mizzou's optimal lineup is not on the court, and the advantage shifts to Tennessee.

  2. Flipadelphia. It's a road game, which means all eyes are on Phil Pressey, and for all the reasons to which we've grown accustomed. If he's under control, finding open shooters, making that little tear-dropper in the lane, and playing reasonably acceptable defense (i.e. the opponent's point guard isn't going off, as has happened many times this year), then Mizzou is the better team.

  3. Slap the Floor. We saw against Arkansas and Florida just how well this team can play defense when the motivation is dialed up. (Yes, Arkansas got a lot of the same shots as South Carolina and LSU and just missed them; still, the defensive intensity was dramatically higher, and for a more sustained period of time.) Tennessee is not a good shooting team; don't let them find open shots. Don't let them find their rhythm. Force them to rebound against a great defensive rebounding Mizzou lineup. Hold them to fewer than 1.0 points per possession, or, hell, even 1.05, and you probably win.


Pomeroy says Mizzou 72, Tennessee 69. That sounds about right, but honestly, in Knoxville, against an opponent that plays a home-friendly style and is desperate for a win, I lean toward picking the Vols. I'll say UT 77, MU 75, acknowledging that if Mizzou shows up on the defensive end, the Tigers can make me feel pretty stupid about that one.