Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Preview and Prediction
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Preview
In-state rivals Tennessee and Vanderbilt meet Tuesday night in Memorial Gymnasium in a battle of 1-2 SEC teams.
The 24th-ranked Volunteers (10-4) hope to capitalize on momentum from Saturday’s 76-65 home win over No. 21 Kentucky. Vanderbilt (6-9) dropped a 71-60 decision at South Carolina the same day.
Forward Grant Williams leads Tennessee in scoring (15.8), rebounding (6.8) and minutes per game (28.8) He had 16 of his 18 points on Saturday in the second half.
But the Vols’ strength is in their balance. Seven players average 20 minutes or more, and five — the others are forward Admiral Schofield (12.9) and guards Jordan Bowden (10.5), Lamonte Turner (9.9) and Jordan Bone (9.0) — average nine points or more.
Tennessee’s offense was clicking against Kentucky but they win games on the back of their defense. The Vols rank 14th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Tennessee gives up 33.8 percent rate on opponents’ 3-point attempts, and their effort there will be a key Tuesday.
The Commodores shoot only 32.7 percent from long distance, a disappointing effort from a team expected to be one of the SEC’s best in that regard.
Guard Riley LaChance (43.7 percent on 3s) and forward Jeff Roberson (41.9 percent) have been fine, but guard Matthew Fisher-Davis (33.7), the team’s most talented shooter, has been spotty.
Vandy was 8-for-29 on threes against South Carolina. In four previous games — three wins — Vanderbilt hit at least 10 threes each time and was a combined 51-for-121 behind the arc.
The Commodores were plagued by 31 fouls on Saturday, including four crucial charging calls.
“We talked a lot about (Carolina) taking charges, and I think that was a big point in the game,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. “Erase four of those charges and we kick it out for threes, and it could have been a much different ending to the game, a lot tighter.”
Tennessee leads the series 118-75, and the Vols have had their share of success in Memorial.
Starting with Vandy’s 72-69 win in 2007-08 over then then-top-ranked Tennessee, the teams have alternated wins each season at Vanderbilt, including Tennessee’s 87-75 upset last year.
Key Player for the Vols
Sophomore forward Grant Williams: 15.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. Williams does it all for the Volunteers.
Key Player for the Commodores
Senior forward Jeff Roberson: 14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists per game. Roberson is not only Vandy’s best player but their leader on and off the court.
The Commodores play much better at home as Memorial Gymnasium is a tough place for road teams to come and steal a victory–just ask Alabama, who lost 76-75 on Jan. 2.
Tennessee is the better team, but I believe the home underdog will not only cover the two points Tennessee is laying, but win the game outright.
UPSET ALERT: Vanderbilt 78 Tennessee 75
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