Photo Credit: Andrew Ferguson/ Tennessee Athletics
By Dominic Throngard
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tonight, the red-hot no. 7 Tennessee Vols (2-0) gear up to play host to the Wofford Terriers (2-0) in Thompson Boling Arena at Food City Center in a contest slated for a 6:30 p.m. tip-off.
The Vols are coming off a big win in Madison against the Wisconsin Badgers and the team looked just as bright as their preseason hopes promised with their reloaded roster, including all SEC team returners and hot ticket transfers. The Northern Colorado transfer Dalton Knecht continued his statue-building campaign as the new sweetheart of many Tennessee fans with a dominant performance where he racked up 24 points, 5 boards, and 2 assists. He wasn’t the only transfer in the mix either with newcomer Jordan Gainey getting 10 points off the bench to help elevate the team to a victory. Josiah-Jordan James, a more familiar name, also laid it out on the court with a solid 14-point and 6-board showing.
The question of Zakai Zeigler’s status remains somewhat in question at the moment with him seeing only limited minutes against Wisconsin and not looking back to one hundred percent after his season-ending ACL tear last season. Coach Barnes has been reported as saying that Zeigler’s minutes will continue to go up as the season goes on, per Grant Ramey of VolQuest.
The team will be looking to continue its march onward through the non-conference opponents in its matchup at home against a currently 2-0 Wofford team that has picked up wins against High Point and Brevard. The side had a respectable season last year goin a hair over .500 with a 17-16 overall record. This year’s SoCon preseason poll has them slated for the eighth spot in a ten university conference. Dillon Brady and Corey Tripp will be the players to watch with near 16 point averages from each of them so far this year.
With the level of early season success and extraordinary talent level this team possesses, it’s clear that this Tennessee team has everything necessary to achieve the loftiest of goals and set itself apart from the rest of the fantastic teams Tennessee has had over the years. The Rick Barnes era has had a lot of promise and Final Fours have proved elusive, but this season already feels different with a superstar like Knecht who can create scoring opportunities anywhere on the court, a piece the Vols have sorely been missing in previous tournament runs. He again will be the focus tonight as the Vols continue to live up to the standard being set with each win.
You can catch the Vols in action next against the Syracuse Orange in the Maui invitational tournament with plenty of other big names in the mix, on November 20th at 7:30 p.m. ET.