By Justin Clemmer
WHO: No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers (19-5, 8-3 SEC) vs. Missouri Tigers (18-6, 6-5 SEC)
WHEN: Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. ET
WHERE: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN
HOW TO WATCH: SEC Network
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
Tennessee: G Zakai Ziegler, G Santiago Vescovi, G Josiah-Jordan James, F Julian Phillips, F Olivier Nkamhoua
Missouri: G Nick Honor, G D’Moi Hodge, G Deandre Gholston, G Kobe Brown, F Noah Carter
SPREAD: Tennessee -12.5
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After dropping two of their last three games in ugly fashion, the Volunteers look to bounce back against a streaky Missouri Tigers team Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. ET, in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Last game, Vanderbilt got hot from deep and took down Tennessee, losing in Memorial Gymnasium for the first time since 2014.
It has become increasingly apparent over the past week and a half that the Vols lack an alpha at the end of games. Last year, the ball would always be in Kennedy Chandler’s hands as he would often make good decisions, this year, it seems very random.
One game Josiah-Jordan James is the guy, the next it could be anybody between Santiago Vescovi and Tyreke Key. This is what scares many Vols fans as we approach March. It is becoming more about how they are losing more than them just losing. Plus, no one likes losing to Vandy.
Tonight’s game will showcase the No. 2 defense in the country, Tennessee, and the No. 13 offense in the country, Missouri.
The Tigers deploy a small starting unit, guard Kobe Brown is the tallest at 6 ‘8″. It may play in Tennessee’s favor to play small for the majority of the game.
The Vols did switch to one-big starting lineups a few weeks ago, but it is too often that Olivier Nkamhoua and Uros Plavsic share the floor, it makes the offense very stagnant at times.There is a possibility that we see different minute allocations tonight to match Missouri’s small ball.
In all likelihood, the lineup won’t see any changes and Tennessee see will try to bang down low with their size advantage.
Players to Watch
Tennessee: The entire team needs to play better, but Josiah-Jordan James has been here the longest and has the skillset to dominate any given night. Perhaps his knee injury is still lingering, but March is coming, it is time to string some games together.
It felt like Tyreke Key was the odd-man-out a week ago. Now, coming off a 14 point effort, he will look to stay hot tonight. Key is perplexing, he has played well when he is on the floor but is always the first guy to lose minutes. After a 27 point game against Gonzaga to kick the season off, many thought he was gonna be one of the main guys. Hopefully, tonight he will earn more minutes.
Missouri: Kobe Brown is a stud, everyone in the SEC knows it. The senior has had seven games of 20 or more points this season and two with 30 or more. Tennessee cannot let him get going. It’s hard to spot a weakness in his scoring ability. He shoots 57.3% from the field and 45.1% from three. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes will have his handful with No. 24.
D’Moi Hodge is another stud on the Tigers’ roster. The senior guard leads the SEC and is second in 3-pointers made. He plays a very similar game to Santiago Vescovi.
Missouri has a lot of talent, but their lack of size and streaky shooting in road games will be too much for them to overcome. Tennessee will get back on track tonight in the first of two straight games here at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee 71, Missouri 57