WHO: No. 22 Tennessee Volunteers (1-1) vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (2-1)
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. ET
WHERE: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN
HOW TO WATCH: SECN+/ESPN+
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
Tennessee: G Tyreek Key, G Santiago Vescovi, F Josiah Jordan-James, F Julian Phillips, F Olivier Nkamhoua
FGCU: G Caleb Catto, G Isaiah Thompson, G Dahmir Bishop, F Dakota Rivers, F Zach Anderson
SPREAD: Tennessee -21.0
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Following a 78-66 loss to Colorado in Nashville on Sunday, the 22nd-ranked Volunteers are set to return home to Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday to try and bounce back against Florida Gulf Coast.
Tennessee is coming off one of its worst shooting performances in the Rick-Barnes era. The Vols went 16-63 (25.4%) from the field against the Buffaloes, while going 10-37 (27.0%) from three-point range. Tennessee only made six two-pointers throughout the game, and never seemed to find a rhythm offensively.
The Vols were outplayed in nearly every way by Colorado, especially in shooting and rebounding. However, it was Tennessee’s shooting struggles that ultimately led to their first loss of the year.
It’s been a slow start for the Vols this season, as they are shooting 32.8% on the year despite an average of over 70 points per game.
As for FGCU, the Eagles are coming off a big 105-61 win over Ave Maria. The Eagles shot over 50% from the field in the win, including 42.5 % from three.
In three games this season, the Eagles are averaging 84 points per game while shooting 44.4% from the floor. The Eagle’s defense has been solid as well, limiting opponents to 67 points per game, a near 20-point differential.
Players to Watch
Tennessee: With Barnes announcing that sophomore Zakai Zeigler would no longer be starting for the Vols after he was marked as “out of control” and “reckless” in the loss to Colorado, look for Indiana State transfer Tyreek Key to step into a starting role for Tennessee. Key leads the team with 16.0 points per game while shooting 36.8% from the floor, both while coming off the bench.
While Zeigler’s speed and familiarity with Barnes’ offense will be missed in the starting five, Key’s consistency on the offensive end of the floor should help the Vols fall into more of a rhythm. Plus, Zeigler will still find production as the sixth man much like his freshman year.
Josiah Jordan James should also be back in the starting rotation after a solid performance against Colorado showing that his preseason knee injury should no longer be an issue.
Finally, look at big-man Jonas Aidoo to get more action with Uros Plasvic being sidelined with an ankle injury suffered against Colorado. Aidoo should bring some size and versatility to the Tennessee interior.
FGCU: Guard Chase Johnston is a key player to watch for the Eagles. Off the bench this season, Johnston leads the team averaging 18.0 points per game while shooting 48.7% from the floor. In what’s been an explosive offense for FGCU so far this season, Johnston provides an extra level of depth production for the Eagles.
Another key player to watch is forward Zach Anderson, who is averaging over 14 points per game and over eight rebounds per game. Anderson’s size and physicality will match up well against a Vols team that has struggled on the interior, especially in rebounding.
I think that the Vols will get back on track with a win over the Eagles, however, Tennessee needs to find an offensive rhythm early or the Eagles’ solid defense will cause issues.
With the shakeup in the starting rotation and being back home in TBA, I believe we will see a more consistent Tennessee offense on the floor.
Tennessee 82, FGCU 64