Presbyterian (2-8) at Tennessee (5-3)
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 7:00 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) . Knoxville, Tenn.
Radio: Vol Network (WGOW-FM 102.3, Chattanooga)
Series Record: 0-0
Probable Presbyterian Starters
F-Ryan McTavish, 6-5, 202, SO, (6.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
C-William Truss, 6-7, 257, SO, (7.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
G-Eric Washington, 5-10, 173, JR, (13.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.6 apg)
G-Jordan Downing, 6-5, 200, SO, (11.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.0 apg)
G-Khalid Mutakabbir, 6-4, 190, SR, (14.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.7 apg)
Key Reserves: Austin Anderson (6-5, 165, FR); Ryan Hargrave (6-6, 235, SR).
Probable Tennessee Starters
F-Kenny Hall, 6-9, 230, SR, (6.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
F-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 188, SO, (6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.0 spg)
C-Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, 270, SO, (11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.1 spg)
G-Skylar McBee, 6-3, 195, SR , (6.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, .325 3PT)
G-Trae Golden, 6-1, 205, JR, (13.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.6 apg)
Key Reserves: Jordan McRae (6-5, 178, JR); Brandon Lopez (6-1, 178, SO); Quinton Chievous (6-5, 201, R-FR); Yemi Makanjuola (6-9, 250, SO); D’Montre Edwards (6-6, 220, JR).
The opening tip
After playing just two home games in the season’s first month, the Vols are in the midst of a six-game home stand. Tonight’s opponent, Presbyterian College, became a full-blown Division I member this season and as such will be eligible to play in its conference (Big South) tournament for the first time. . The Blue Hose shouldn’t present too much of a problem for the Vols. They’ve won only twice this season, and both those games were against non-Division I schools. In fairness to Presbyterian, it has played a brutal schedule, with games at Clemson, Georgia Tech, Creighton and Wisconsin to start the season. No surprisingly, the Blue Hose stated 0-6 before winning its first game, against Toccoa Falls, a non-NCAA school.
Tennessee would like to use this game to get continue to fine-tune its offense before the schedule starts to toughen up again. After a game against Western Carolina on Friday, the Vols play host to Xavier (Dec. 29), Memphis (Jan. 4) and Ole Miss (Jan. 9) in their next three home games, then they travel to Alabama (Jan. 12) and Kentucky (Jan. 15).
The Vols would love to get sophomore post man Jarnell Stokes going. In his last three games, he’s accounted for four, five and six points against Georgetown, Virginia and Wichita State, respectively. He fouled out against the Shockers, but fortunately for Tennessee, fellow sophomore Yemi Makanjuola picked up some of the slack with nine points, eight boards, an assist and a blocked shot.
Another player who has been neutralized lately is senior guard Skylar McBee, who is 7 of 26 (.269) from 3-point range in his last four games. But McBee has been playing through an injury to his right (shooting) elbow.
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin on the three games the Vols played from No. 30 to Dec. 13: “As a coach, you always have to assess when you feel like you’ve made mistakes and have to correct things. I think to schedule Virginia and Georgetown back to back is probably not a very smart thing to do. Then you play this very talented Wichita State team. I think that’s extremely tough in preseason when you have control of the schedule.”
Tennessee is nearing 300 victories in Thompson-Boling Arena, which opened in 1987. A win over Presbyterian would make it 299, and the Vols can get to 300 with a win against Western Carolina on Friday. . Tennessee has held four straight opponents to 60 points or less, tying the program’s longest such streak in the era of the shot clock. . The Vols have scored 76.0 points in their wins and 39.7 in their losses this season. When they’ve won, the Vols have shot .508 from the field and .382 from 3. When they’ve lost, those percentages slip to .291 and .190. . Presbyterian hasn’t played a game in March since 2007 because of its previous Division I transitional status. That streak ends this year because the Blue Hose can play in the Big South tournament. . PC is getting solid play from newcomer Jordan Downing, who transferred from Davidson. He’s the Blue Hose’s third leading scorer and has a 25-point game against Creighton. He tossed in four 3-pointers against the Bluejays. . Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert is in his 24th season. He’s compiled a 378-315 record.