No. 6 Tennessee will be looking to sweep the season series when it travels to Vanderbilt on Wednesday night. The Vols have won five of their last six games, but they fell four spots in the polls following a loss at Florida last Wednesday. Vanderbilt was able to snap its three-game losing streak with a 74-71 win against Ole Miss on Saturday.
Vols trying to find answers on offenseTennessee has been one of the most consistent teams in college basketball this season, playing low-variance games due to its strong defense. The Vols went 14-2 in their first 16 games, winning their first four SEC games during that stretch. They suffered their first conference loss in a home game against Kentucky three weeks ago, but they responded with another four-game winning streak. That streak was capped by an impressive 82-71 win against then-No. 10 Texas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, but the Vols lost to Florida last Wednesday in their following game. They bounced back with an ugly 46-43 win over then-No. 25 Auburn on Saturday.
big @sza guy— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) February 7, 2023
MIC'D UP 🎙️ @olivier_rn pic.twitter.com/nBQOury7Qt
The Vols have dominated this series in recent years, winning 11 straight meetings. They shot just 27% from the floor against Auburn, but they held the Tigers to an even lower clip (23.6%). Josiah-Jordan James posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds in one of his best outings of the season, while Tennessee held an opponent to 50 points or fewer for the 11th time this season. The Vols continue to struggle on the offensive end, ranked No. 261 in 3-point percentage (32.3), No. 234 in effective field goal percentage (49.4) and No. 216 in turnover rate. They have been able to salvage some possessions with the nation’s third-best offensive rebounding percentage. Vanderbilt comes into this game at No. 184 in adjusted defensive efficiency, so this could be an opportunity for Tennessee to correct some offensive issues.
Commodores hoping to test TennesseeVanderbilt has been struggling since the onset of the season, and things have not improved during conference play. However, the Commodores have shown that they are capable of competing, picking up wins against South Carolina, then-No. 15 Arkansas, Georgia and Ole Miss. They also pushed Tennessee for most of the first meeting between these teams in Knoxville, with Liam Robbins scoring a team-high 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Robbins is coming off another strong outing, posting a double-double with 19 points and 12 boards in the 74-71 win over Ole Miss. He also ranks second in the SEC with 3.0 blocks per game.
Trailblazers.@VandyMBB’s Perry Wallace and Godfrey Dillard broke barriers and forever changed SEC basketball. pic.twitter.com/369C6LzuDD— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 7, 2023
Tyrin Lawrence notched the first double-double of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds following coach Jerry Stackhouse’s decision to bench him in a 101-44 loss at Alabama the previous game. Jordan Wright, who is scoring 10.3 points per game, missed Saturday’s game due to a concussion and is questionable for this contest. Vanderbilt needs all the help it can get offensively, as it ranks No. 277 in 3-point percentage (32.1) and No. 251 in 2-point percentage (48.6). The Commodores are facing a Tennessee defense that ranks first in adjusted efficiency, first in field goal percentage and first in 3-point percentage.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
I’m not ready to lay double digits with this Tennessee team right now, as its struggles on the offensive end have proven costly of late. The Vols were upset in a road game at Florida that they should have won, and they barely got past Auburn as sizeable favorites on Saturday. They continue to shut teams down on the defensive end, but their offense is a major question mark. Vanderbilt was able to have success by using Robbins in the paint in the first meeting between these teams, and I expect that to continue on Wednesday. The Commodores will do enough to stay within the spread in this contest.
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Full-Game Total Pick
My pick on the total should not come as a surprise, as I am once again fading a Tennessee offense that has been brutal to watch at times this season. The Vols had one of those performances on Saturday, going under the total for the eighth time in their last 12 games. They are shooting less than 33% from 3-point range, and Vanderbilt is in the same boat. The Commodores like to slow the game down, sitting just inside the top 300 nationally in tempo. They have gone under in four of their last six games, and I expect that to continue on Wednesday.