Tennessee forward Uros Plavsic (33) works for a shot against South Carolina forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee Set to Host Arkansas

Tennessee men’s basketball prepares for a SEC matchup against Arkansas on Tuesday. The Volunteers come into the game with a 21-8 record, while Arkansas currently stands at 19-10 on the season.

The No. 12 Volunteers faced off against South Carolina on Saturday and demolished the Gamecocks 85-45 while the Razorbacks fell to No. 2 Alabama 86-83 on Saturday.

Volunteers Continue to Slip

Although Tennessee dominated South Carolina in its last game, the team’s performance is not an accurate representation of how the season has gone as of late. The Volunteers have won only two of its last five games, going from No. 2 to No. 12 in the AP Poll during that span.

Tennessee is sitting in fourth in the SEC standings with a conference record of 10-6. However, Missouri, Auburn and Vanderbilt are all one game behind the Volunteers.

For Tennessee to turn things around and solidify its spot in the SEC, the team needs to focus on scoring from beyond the arc. The Volunteers have shot 27.7% from the 3-point line in the games the team has lost this season. However, in the games they have won, the team is shooting 30.4% from downtown. To win its last two games of the regular season, Tennessee should look to give guard Santiago Vescovi open looks from three, where he is shooting 34.9% for the season.

Arkansas Looks to Push

In its last game, the Razorbacks lost a close one against the Crimson Tide. Arkansas freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. scored 24 points and shot 66.6% from beyond the arc. But Alabama’s star freshman Brandon Miller led them to an 86-83 victory with 24 points.

Despite the loss, Arkansas has improved as of late. Although the Razorbacks went 4-9 in January, the team is currently 4-3 in February with two conference games remaining in the regular season.

The recent success of the team can be linked to the play of Smith Jr. In his last two games, he’s averaged 25 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game. Smith Jr. earned the SEC Freshmen of The Week for the second time this season.

Arkansas is currently sitting in the eighth spot in the SEC rankings with a conference record of 8-8. If the Razorbacks can pull off a win against a Top 25 team like Tennessee, the team will not only potentially move up in the conference rankings, but the win will be a catalyst for an NCAA tournament bid come March.

Keys to The Game

The all-time series between Tennessee and Arkansas has been close. The Volunteers currently lead the series 24-22 and won the last matchup 78-74. But with tournament stakes for both teams on the line, this is not just another game in the series.

For the Razorbacks to win, Arkansas will need to continue to run its offense through junior guard Ricky Council IV. He is currently leading the team with 16.8 points per game. This is the third-highest PPG in the SEC. The team will also look to Smith Jr. to continue his offensive hot streak.

In order for the Volunteers to come out on top, the team will need guard Zakai Zeigler to dish the ball around and help others score. Zeigler leads the team in assists, averaging 5.5 per game, which is the highest APG in the SEC.

Tennessee has a 13-2 record at home this season. On the other hand, Arkansas has not performed well on the road, heading into the game with a 2-7 road record.

Start Time

Tipoff is at 9 p.m. at Thompson-Boiling Arena.

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