- Very, very good defensive team. Currently #1 in the SEC in scoring defense.
- Veteran team with the talent to match UK at multiple positions.
- #52 McRae and #5 Stokes are 2 of the best players in the SEC.
- Good offensive rebounding team, we must box out!!!
- Pretty good 3-point shooting team; shooting 36% from 3 and taking 16 per game.
PG #2 Antonio Brown: 6’2’’ 180 SR.
Brown is a solid all-around player who takes care of the ball, distributes it, and will knock down some 3’s. He averages 8.8 points per game and is shooting 41.4% from 3. Brown is a good athlete, but his size will make matching up with Andrew Harrison rather difficult.
SG #52 Jordan McRae: 6’6’’ 185 SR.
Jordan McRae is one of the best players in the SEC, hands down. He was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 and Naismith Watch List, and he is living up to the preseason hype. The senior is averaging 18.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. A very aggressive, dynamic, offensive player, McRae will do a little bit of everything to score the basketball.
SF #1 Josh Richardson: 6’6’’ 196 JR.
Long, athletic wing that comes in averaging 9.1 points per game. Richardson isn’t necessarily a 3-point shooter, he is taking just over one 3 per game, but he does hit 44.4% of his shots from beyond the arc.
PF #5 Jarnell Stokes: 6’8’’ 260 JR.
Kentucky fans should be familiar with Stokes by now. He is a strong, physical post player who is simply a beast down low. Stokes is averaging a near double-double with 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He is a very good offensive rebounder, so our big men will have their hands full trying to box out the big guy. In the post, Kentucky defenders need to make Stokes score over top of them. What that means is that our defender needs to not give Stokes and angle to the basket for a quick score, but instead make him make a move and score over the defender. He is shooting just 45.9% from the field.
C #34 Jeronne Maymon: 6’8’’ 260 RS SR.
Very similar build to Jarnell Stokes; Maymon is a very good big man in his own right. The 5th year senior averages 10.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Very good offensive rebounder as well.
G #15 Darius Thompson: 6’5’’ 181 FR.
Thompson gets quite a bit done in the 17 minutes per game that he averages. The freshman leads the Volunteers in steals, and has just 3 fewer assists than Jordan McRae. He has 43 assists to 16 turnovers. Scoring just 2.9 points per game, but Thompson brings a lot of good things to the table.
F #23 Derek Reese: 6’8’’ 220 SO.
In the last few games, Reese has been the most productive player off of the Tennessee bench. He averages 5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while also shooting 33% from beyond the arc. Versatile player on both ends of the court.
- The Vols feature a pretty well balanced offensive attack with each of their starters averaging at least 8.8 points per game. However, the majority of possessions will culminate with Jordan McRae or Jarnell Stokes taking the shot. Tennessee is a very good passing team that will use good ball movement to get an open perimeter shot or a clean post feed to either Stokes or Jeronne Maymon.
- Not that any team, including Tennessee, relies on this as a form of offense, but the Vols do get a lot of points of off offensive rebounds. Stokes and Maymon combine for about 8 offensive rebounds per game and are both pretty good free throw shooters (especially Stokes).
- They will not play as fast as Kentucky in transition, but Antonio Barton and McRae will look to get out in a fast break from time to time. Both of them, along with running mate Josh Richardson, are good athletes who are capable of hitting transition jump shots or getting to the rim.
- There is nothing flashy, or particularly special about the Volunteer defense that holds opponents to 41% shooting and leads the SEC in scoring defense. It is just really, really solid. Each player gets down and guards really hard and they have a good mix of athleticism, length, and strength to match up with a variety of teams.
- Stokes and Maymon are both very good players, but they are a little slow and unathletic, especially in comparison to Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Volunteer big men will need to work very hard to contain the ‘Cats down low.
Keys to the Game
- Contain Jordan McRae. Usually you don’t have to worry about one player beating you, and I am not saying that McRae is so good that he can single-handily beat UK, but he is capable of getting hot and going for 30 points. The Harrison twins matchup up very well in terms of size and athleticism, so it will just be a question of sitting down in a stance and guarding him.
- Physical box outs!!! This point should be written all over the locker room coming off of a loss to Arkansas which saw a missed box out turn into a #1 play and possibly a play of the year. Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon are phenomenal offensive rebounders and very physical players; it will take some strength and pure hard work to keep these two off the offensive glass.
- Kentucky will need good games from Andrew Harrison, James Young, and the bench. When looking at position-by-position matchups it is clear that these spots are where the Wildcats have advantages. Tennessee has a very thin bench, so if there is any foul trouble it could be a major issue for the Vols.