Hoops Central: #9 Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech

Hoops Central: #9 Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech
Hoops Central: #9 Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The ninth-ranked Tennessee basketball team officially opens the 2023-24 campaign Monday night, taking on the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech in its regular-season home opener. Tipoff is set for 6:30 pm ET at Food City Center.

Fans can catch Monday’s game on SEC Network+ and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Andy Brock (play-by-play) and VFL Steve Hamer (analyst) will have the call.

In Tennessee’s exhibition final on Halloween night, it defeated Lenoir-Rhyne, 90-48.

Junior forward Jonas Aidoo registered a team-best 14 points for the Vols in their first home action of the 2023-24 season.

The Volunteers connected on six of their first seven shots, including all three attempts from deep, and built a commanding 15-0 advantage after just 3:41 of play. Tennessee continued its strong shooting and, buoyed by eight straight makes, opened the contest 18-of-24 from the field, building a 45-15 edge with 4:22 on the first-half clock.

In both of Tennessee’s exhibition games, it scored at least the first nine points, tallied at least 15 points before the opponent made a field goal and led by 15-plus points in the opening four-and-a-half minutes.

• The Volunteers’ 11-game winning streak in the in-state series dates back to 12/2/97.
• Every regular season meeting between the two sides has come on Tennessee’s home court, as the lone game at TTU was an NIT matchup on 3/14/85 that the Volunteers won, 65-62.
• The Vols and Golden Eagles have met five times during the Rick Barnes era, with UT posting a plus- 29.2 scoring margin (85.6 to 56.4).
• Tennessee has held TTU under 55 points in three of the past four meetings, including below 50 in two of the last three.
• The Vols have eclipsed 95 points in three of the past eight matchups, including two of the last four.
• The Golden Eagles are coming off a 16-17 (11-7) campaign in 2022-23 and were picked sixth in the OVC preseason poll.
• TTU returns just one of its top four scorers from last season in senior guard Jayvis Harvey, who averaged 12.0 ppg.
• UT is 42-2 all-time against current OVCU members and Barnes is 7-0 versus OVC teams, all while at UT.

• Both natives of Durham, NC, UT junior forward Jonas Aidoo and TTU senior guard Jayvis Harvey played against each other in high school.
• This is Tennessee’s 115th season of varsity basketball.
• The Volunteers are playing on a new court at the Food City Center this season after posting a 108-22 (.831) record in eight years, dating back to the start of Rick Barnes‘ tenure, on their previous floor.
• UT is 33-3 in home openers at Food City Center, including 7-1 under Barnes, with wins in each of the last six seasons.
• Tennessee is on a 21-game non-conference home winning streak, dating to the 2020-21 season opener (11/8/20), with victories over schools such as Arizona, Cincinnati, Colorado and Kansas during that stretch.
• The Vols’ last non-conference home setback was a 68-48 result against Wisconsin on 12/28/19.

• Tennessee scored 89-plus points in both of its exhibition wins, did not trail in either for a single second and led for 78:28 of a possible 80 minutes.
• The Volunteers first posted an 89-88 victory Oct. 29 at fourth-ranked Michigan State and then topped Lenoir-Rhyne, 90-48, two days later at the Food City Center. Box scores are on Pages 43-44.
• In both of UT’s exhibition games, it scored at least the first nine points and numerous 15-plus points before the opponent made a field goal, as well as led by at least 15 points in the opening four-and-a-half minutes and by 18-plus points in the first 10 minutes.
Dalton Knecht paced the Vols with 20.5 ppg on a 48.3 FG% (14- of-29) in the two exhbition games, adding 5.0 rpg and 3.5 apg, while fellow first-year transfer Jordan Gainey putting up 16.5 ppg and 5.0 apg, posting a 57.9 FG% (11-of-19) and a 53.8 3P% (7-of-13).
Jonas Aidoo averaged 11.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg on 61.5% shooting (8-of-13), while making both his 3-point attempts.

• Tennessee has played 167 games as a ranked team in the AP Poll under Rick Barnes, posting a stellar 124-53 (.743) record. Over 62.5 percent of the Volunteers’ games since Barnes arrived in 2015-16 have come with the team ranked in the AP Poll.
• Furthermore, UT owns a 103-38 (.730) record while ranked in the top 20 during Barnes’ tenure, a 73-26 (.737) mark while in the top 15, a 56-16 (.778) ledger while in the top 10, a 25-7 (.781) tally while in the top five and a 17-2 (.895) record while in the top three.
• The Vols are 21-17 (.553) in top-25 matchups under Barnes, including 16-10 (.615) with both teams in the top 20, 9-5 (.643) with both in the top 15 and 6 -3 (.667) with both in the top 10.

• Tennessee placed first in the SEC preseason poll, as voted on by a select panel of both SEC and national media members.
• This is the fifth time the Volunteers have been picked to win the league since polling began in 1989-90, with each nod coming since the turn of the century in advance of the 2000-01 season. UT’s five first-place selections during that time are more than the combined total of every other program in the league except for Kentucky, as Florida (twice) and Alabama (once) are the only schools that have taken the pole position besides the Vols and Wildcats.
• The Volunteers have now been picked first in two of the last four seasons, as their prior such recognitions came in 2020-21, 2008-09, 2007-08 and 2000-01.
• The complete SEC preseason poll can be found below:

1. Tennessee
2. Texas A&M
4. Kentucky
5. Alabama
7. Mississippi State
8. Florida
10. Ole Miss
12. Georgia
13. LSU
14. South Carolina

Santiago Vescovi earned Preseason First Team All-SEC status, while Zakai Zeigler collected Preseason Second Team All-SEC recognition. Both earned the same designation before (and after) the 2022-23 campaign.
• Tennessee was one of four schools with multiple Preseason All-SEC distinctions, joining Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky.
• Vescovi is the fifth multiple-time Preseason First Team All-SEC designee in program history—polling started in 1989-90—alongside Allan Houston (thrice), Tony Harris (thrice), Chris Lofton and Tyler Smith.
• Zeigler is the eighth Volunteer to pick up multiple Preseason All-SEC honors, a list that also features Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes.

• Three Volunteers were tabbed to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame “Starting Five” Preseason Watch Lists.
Zakai Zeigler is one of 20 players on the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Preseason Watch List.
Santiago Vescovi is among 20 individuals on the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Preseason Watch List.
Dalton Knechtbefore even playing a game at Tennessee, is one of the 20 selections for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Watch List.

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Tags: Hoops Central Tennessee Tennessee Tech


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