When and where: February 18, 2020, Thomson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN, 6:30 PM ET
The struggling Vanderbilt Commodores trek across good, old Rocky Top for an SEC tilt with the Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday. After blowing out Arkansas, the Volunteers dropped a disappointing 63-61 loss on the road to South Carolina. They’ll try to get back on the winning track by handing Vanderbilt another loss in the second meeting of the season between the two rivals. The Commodores are coming off a third straight loss in a conference meeting with Florida on Saturday.
Vanderbilt’s worst game revisitedVanderbilt has a golden opportunity to make things right—or make them worse—when traveling on the road to the Thomson-Boling Arena on Tuesday. They surely haven’t forgotten the lopsided beating the Volunteers gave them in January. It was their worst offensive performance all season with them finishing with only 45 points, a 23.5 field goal shooting percentage and going 0-for-25 from 3-pointer.
Not even a bad team would forget a loss like that.
The Commodores have lost their last three consecutive games ahead of their rematch with Tennessee. They were recently obliterated in an 84-66 loss to the Florida Gators.
Tennessee lacks a high-scoring offense, but the defensive struggles for Vanderbilt are bad enough to change that for a single night. The Commodores’ 281st-ranked defense is allowing a 50.6 average shooting percentage in their last three games. That doesn’t bode well with them being on the road against the superior team on paper.
The loss of sophomore forward Aaron Nesmith hasn’t done them any favors on the offensive side of the ball, either. They essentially lost the most explosive player on their team that was averaging 23.0 points per game. He wasn’t on the floor to help the Commodores in the first game, and he won’t be there in the rematch. Saben Lee and Scotty Pippen Jr. will have to carry the load.
A must-win situation for the VolsTennessee’s hopes for qualifying for the NCAA Tournament are dire, but at least they aren’t completely dead like Vanderbilt’s. Granted, they can’t afford to drop any more bad losses for the rest of the regular season.
That includes Tuesday’s run-in with the Commodores. Their backs are completely against the wall in the head-to-head meeting, and they’ll have to come out swinging if they have any hopes of saving their season. They should be especially motivated after a devastating 63-61 road loss to South Carolina on Saturday.
The Volunteers are only averaging 66.9 points per game with limited reliable scoring options. Yet, shots are sure to fall when facing a Commodores defense that couldn’t even stop a cold. John Fulkerson had a breakout offensive showing against the Gamecocks, and Tennessee could continue feeding him the ball in hopes of a carryover performance.
The defensive end of the floor is truly where the Commodores could make the Volunteers feel some pain. Their 25th-ranked defense is only allowing an average 62.2 points per game this season. Getting over the scoring hump will be a tall mountain to climb for the Commodores.
- Commodores are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS loss.
- Volunteers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Tuesday games.