The top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will host the West Virginia Mountaineers this Saturday as a part of the annual SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The SEC-Big 12 Challenge is a series that features ten match-ups between SEC and Big 12 schools.
This is the first time that Tennessee and West Virginia will face off in the series.
West Virginia Struggles
The Mountaineers have had a disappointing start their season, coming into this weekend’s match-up with an overall record of 9-10.
West Virginia’s biggest weakness has been their inability to win against Big 12 conference opponents. The Mountaineers are currently 1-6 in conference play and ranked 10th in the Big 12.
However, the highlight of West Virginia’s season came in an upset victory over No. 7 Kansas. With 8.8 seconds left on the clock, West Virginia guard Jermaine Haley sank a layup to put the Mountaineers on top 65-64.
— WVU Sports (@WVUSports) January 19, 2019
West Virginia’s offense will rely on guard James Bolden and forward Esa Ahmad. Bolden is averaging 12.8 points per game and leads the Mountaineers with an average of 2.6 assists per game.
Rocky Top On Top
The Tennesse Volunteers are off to one of the greatest starts in school history with a 17-1 record. The Volunteers currently sit atop the SEC with a 6-0 record against conference opponents.
Tennessee’s sole loss came against then-ranked No. 2 Kansas in overtime, 87-81.
The Volunteers have been dominate over opponents but faced a challenge when they took on Vanderbilt this past Wednesday. Tennessee edged out Vanderbilt 88-83 in overtime.
Head coach Rick Barnes attributes the victory over Vanderbilt to the demeanor his guards including Grant Williams.
Williams has been explosive throughout the season but proved his talent against the Commodores by recording a season-high 43 points and shot 23-23 from the line.
Career-high 43 pts ✅
SEC record 23-23 from the line ✅
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 24, 2019
Williams leads the Volunteers with 20.3 points per game and is second in rebounds and blocks per game.
How to Watch
This SEC-Big 12 matchup starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday and you can catch it on ESPN.