Arkansas guard JD Notae, left, tries to get past Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

No.17 Tennessee Volunteers Face Unranked Missouri Tigers

The No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers (19-7, 10-4 SEC) will be going against the Missouri Tigers (10-17, 4-10) Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Let’s go over tonight’s matchup.

Tennessee Powered by Guard Play

Tennessee’s offense has been playing heavy this season. Its four leading scorers are guards. Santiago Vescovi’s leads the Vols with 13.5 points per game. While freshman Kennedy Chandler averages 13.2 points per game. For junior Vescovi, he had a tough Saturday with only seven points while shooting 2-13 from the field.

John Fulkerson is the leading active post scorer with 7.6 points per game. But, the team’s forwards have not been the made vocal point. They faced a tough loss to No. 18 Arkansas last Saturday (58-48) when the Vols only got seven points combined from their forwards. Although a tough loss, Arkansas has been on fire. The Razorbacks have won nine in a row after a slow SEC start. They won 10 of its past 11 games, with a one-point loss at Alabama as the only loss. Because of their playing confidence, this led to Tennessee slipping into a tie with Arkansas for third place in the SEC.  They are now just three games ahead of five teams tied at 7-7.

Entering Tuesday, Tennessee hasn’t lost back-to-back games this season. They have strung together multiple winning streaks after losses, including a five-game winning streak between their loss at Texas on Jan. 29 and its loss at Arkansas.  Tennessee has two away games against Missouri and Georgia remaining, in which the Tigers and Bulldogs sit at 12th and 14th, respectively, in the SEC. They also has home games against first-place Auburn and Arkansas. In order for the Vols to secure a top-four finish and a double-bye in the SEC Tournament, they need to win two of the four remaining games.

Missouri Continues to Struggle

Missouri has lost four of its last five games and 13 of the last 17 mainly because they haven’t been strong in scoring. The Tigers aren’t making points by getting to the line and they don’t come up with enough steals and turnovers to get on the move.  There isn’t much rebounding coming up for second chance points either.

This season has been a step back considering Missouri made the NCAA Tournament in 2021 for the second time under Cuonzo Martin.  The Tigers only have four SEC wins, two of which were against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The Rebels and Aggies are both at the bottom of the SEC standings, which doesn’t make their victories very grand.  The Tigers have a notable win against Alabama where they beat them 92-86 in early SEC play, but they still have no wins against a team with a winning record in SEC play.

Entering Tuesday, Missouri is playing its fourth game in eight days. The Tigers were defeated by three teams in the past week losing to Arkansas on Feb. 15 (76-57) and then to Mississippi State on Friday (68-49) and Sunday (58-56).

Missouri was originally scheduled to play at Mississippi State on Saturday. But the teams had to make up a postponement from December. The SEC scheduled the makeup game in Columbia for Sunday and moved the Saturday meeting to Friday to accommodate the rescheduled game.

Final Thoughts

In all, both teams are predicted to put up a tough fight. Tennessean, a fan-favored article source for the Vols, wrote “Tennessee 63, Missouri 52: Tennessee has a tough stretch to close SEC play, but starts the four-game run with a road win.” Yahoo!Entertainment also wrote that Tennessee was going to defeat Missouri 73-63 and said, “It’ll be a good first half, but there won’t be any Tiger threes to matter and there won’t be enough free throws to slow down the momentum.”

Tune into the SEC Network at 7 p.m. to see this battle.

About Talia Baia

Talia Baia is a sophomore at the University of Florida studying journalism with a concentration in sports and media.

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