Missouri Tigers (8-16, 1-10 in the SEC)
Tennessee Volunteers (12-12, 5-6 in the SEC)
Saturday, February 13 2016
2:00 PM CST
Rally for Rhyan
SEC Network/Watch ESPN
Tiger Radio Network
Mike Kelly, Gary Link
Today's game is a the day that Mizzou fans are being asked to come out and support the fight to end pediatric cancer.
The game is essentially free, just make a cash donation of any kind and you're in. You can donate a buck, you can donate a thousand, but if you're within driving distance of Mizzou arena, I see no reason that you shouldn't be at this game. The terrible basketball aside, you'll be there supporting an amazing cause and showing this year's team what good Mizzou fans look like.
That said, today we take on the Tennessee Volunteers who should just be called the Tennessee Kevin Punters, he literally does everything. As a team, Tennessee is transitioning from the Martin-Tyndall era to Rick Barnes who seems invigorated by his change of scenery, though not change in outfit color. To better understand what's been going on down in Knoxville I had a brief chat with friend of the site, friend of the pod and friend to all (except Cardinals fans), Charlie Burris of Fox Sports Knoxville.
RMN: How has the UT fanbase's reaction to the Rick Barnes hire evolved since day one?
Burris: Initially, folks were happy with the hire because Barnes is a big name in college basketball, but then they were a little underwhelmed when he wasn't able to lockdown any big recruits like Ben Howland at Mississippi State or Bruce Pearl at Auburn have. Since the season has begun, it's been up and down. When Tennessee wins, he's a hero, when they lose, some fans want to start looking for a new coach. Though, if fans have really paid attention this year, they know that Barnes is actually making this team better than it should be. They have no depth, no height, and very limited talent. It's honestly a miracle they've won as many games as they have and hopefully more fans than not have noticed that.
RMN: Kevin Punter is amazing and does everything, so who should Mizzou pay attention to aside from him?
Burris: Forward Armani Moore is the most obvious answer here. He's versatile, can score efficiently when he puts his mind to it, and will block shots into the 4th row. But, I would say an even more under-the-radar player who could have a big impact is freshman forward Admiral Schofield. Yes, that's his real name. He was just a 3-star recruit coming in, but he's had some huge games and if I hadn't told you, you wouldn't know he's a true freshman because he plays like a grown man.
RMN: To what do you owe the drastic difference between the play of the Vols at home versus on the road, other than winning on the road is tough?
Burris: If I knew the exact answer to this question, I'd be the head coach. I think a lot of it has to do with sloppy play on the road. For whatever reason, Tennessee is effected by the away atmosphere and turns the ball over in bunches. It's what killed them when they gave away a 14 point lead at TCU a couple of weeks ago. And depth is a major issue, home and away. Barnes simply doesn't have the firepower on the bench to get and keep a lead on the road for 40 minutes.
RMN: What would a successful year two and year three in the Rick Barnes era look like?
Burris: If Barnes can get a record of at least .500 this year and next that will be a success and the goal in year three will be an NCAA tournament bid. 2016-17 can't be judged too harshly because the exodus of Cuonzo Martin and the firing of Donnie Tyndall left the cupboard more than bare. Heck, there's not even a cupboard at this point, it's just one of those banker's boxes you use when you move. He needs to get solid recruits and more wins and ultimately get back to the tourney, at the very least, get on the bubble and have a chance to get in the Big Dance.
RMN: How do you see this game going and what's your predicted score?
Burris: I've only watched Mizzou play a couple of times this year, and, no offense, it was not great. That's not to say that Tennessee is something really special but I do believe they should have enough to win this game. I see it going like most of UT's road games, they'll have a 10-15 point lead early in the 2nd half, then they'll go ice cold and start turning the ball over and Mizzou will get it down to 2-4 point game. Ultimately, I think the Vols will win it with free throws (they're the best free throw shooting team in the conference). But, with the way Tennessee has played on the road this year, I won't be surprised at all if they choke this one away.
Predicted score: UT 71 - Mizzou 65
There you have it, word from the other side! Be sure to give Charlie a follow on twitter, listen to his podcast and generally just enjoy the fact that someone is actively covering SEC basketball that isn't Sam or myself.
Looking at the rest of the schedule, this is Mizzou's last real chance to get a victory to match last year's total, so get out there and check out the team. As stated above, today is more than just a basketball game, it's about doing what little we can to help fight a disease that affects the most innocent and good of us.
Get out to this game, wear gold and Rally for Rhyan.