By Justin Clemmer
Photo Credit: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics
WHO: No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers (4-,) vs. George Mason (7-1)
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. ET
WHERE: Food City Center at 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 Dalton Knecht, F Jonas Aidoo
George Mason: G Darius Maddox, G Ronald Polite III, G Jared Billups, F Keyshawn Hall, F Amari Kelly
SPREAD: Tennessee -15.5
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Volunteers return home to Knoxville to take on the George Mason Patriots after dropping three tough loses to some of the best teams in the country. No. 2 Kansas, No. 4 Purdue, and No. 9 North Carolina all took down Tennessee by single digits.
Dalton Knecht continued to shine despite the losses. His 37-point performance against North Carolina was the most an opponent has scored against Tar Heels since NBA first round pick Malik Monk back in 2016.
Tennessee also saw change in their starting lineup. Zakai Ziegler got his first action with the ones since his ACL injury back in February. Defensive specialist, Jahmai Mashack was move back to the bench.
As a team, three-point shooting has been a struggle for the Volunteers. Currently, they are shooting 33.0%, good for 187th in the country.
George Mason is a step down in competition, but they are still a good basketball team. Currently, they are ranked No. 62 in KenPom’s NET rankings. That is the program’s best in the NET era.
They have shot the deep ball much better than Tennessee this year, shooting at a 39.8% clip, 19th in the country. They do not just chuck three-pointers though, they are 239th in the country in pace.
Tennessee’s defense looks to improve after giving up 100 points to North Carolina. The focus will likely on the perimeter scoring of George Mason.
Players to Watch
Zakai Ziegler will be amped up for this game. This will be his first home start in 280 days. Look for him to play off the energy from the crowd and be aggressive on both ends of the floor. He will look to improve his three-point percentage which is down 10% from last season (21.4% vs 31.1%)
Dalton Knecht is a certified bucket. He is clearly the alpha of this Tennessee offense. Grant WIlliams was the last player to demand this much attention from defenses. That was four years ago. Look for Knecht to keep terrorizing defenses tonight.
Keyshawn Hall is a three-level scorer for the Patriots that is off to a great start after transferring from UNLV, averaging 15.1 points per game, leading the team in scoring. Josiah-Jordan James will likely draw this matchup from the 6’7 forward. He will have his hands full.
Darius Maddox provides the punch from the guard spot for the Patriots. He is shooting 40.9% from three on 5.5 attempts per game. He has made multiple threes in all but one of George Mason’s eight contests this season.
Tennessee will not lose four straight. Geroge Mason is a good team, but Tennessee will get back to their defensive ways tonight.
Tennessee 65, George Mason 51