Tennessee (12-7, 3-3 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (14-5, 5-1)
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 8:05 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) . Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: SEC TV
Radio: Vol Network (WGOW-FM 102.3, Chattanooga)
Series Record: Tennessee leads 69-41
Probable Ole Miss Starters
G-Jarvis Summers, 6-3, 186, JR (18.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .550 3FG%)
G-Marshall Henderson, 6-2, 177, SR (18.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, .364 3FG%)
F-LaDarius White 6-6, 210, JR, (7.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F-Sabastian Saiz, 6-9, 230, FR, (5.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
F-Aaron Jones, 6-9, 220, JR (7.0 ppg, 7.3 ppg, 2.6 bpg)
Key Reserves: Derrick Millinghaus (5-10, 172, SO); Anthony Perez (6-9, 215, SO); Demarco Cox (6-8, 275, JR)
Probable Tennessee Starters
G-Darius Thompson, 6-5, 180, FR, (2.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.5 apg)
G-Jordan McRae, 6-6, 185, SR, (18.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg)
G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 190, JR, (8.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .382 3FG%)
F-Jeronne Maymon, 6-8, 260, SR (11.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.7 orpg)
F-Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, 260, JR, (13.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 4.2 orpg)
Key Reserves: Antonio Barton (6-2, 180, SR); Derek Reese (6-8, 220, SO); D’Montre Edwards (6-6, 205, SR)
The opening tip
After one of the worst offensive performances in school history at Florida on Saturday, Tennessee returns home Wednesday night to face an Ole Miss squad that has won four straight and owns a three-game winning streak over the Vols.
Stopping the Rebels starts with containing sharp-shooting senior guard Marshall Henderson. Tennessee knows as well as anybody how tough that is. The sometimes-controversial Henderson dropped a combined 60 points in two games against the Vols last year.
He rarely finds a shot he doesn’t like and is also adept at getting defenders into the air and drawing fouls. And while Henderson will jack up a huge quantity of 3s, the Vols will also have to keep an eye on Jarvis Summers, who thrives on quality looks. He’s attempted less than a third of the 3s that Henderson has this season, but when he takes them, they go in more often than not (.550 3FG%).
Tennessee will need to defend the perimeter at a high level to have a shot in this one, but it won’t matter if the Vols don’t get more offense than the 41 points they put up in Gainesville. UT shot just 26.8 percent from the field and the starting guard trio of Antonio Barton, Josh Richardson and Jordan McRae shot a combined 2 of 29 from the field and made just 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
“I didn’t think our guards shot the ball well, and I didn’t think our guards did a great job of getting into the ball with the ball screens, but it is too tough to spend a lot of time when you got 18 games in the league,” said coach Cuonzo Martin. “You touch on it, you hit it, make your guys understand it, and you hit the key points, you learn from it, you keep moving because you’ll have the opportunity again.”
The inside game is what has been working for UT, however. Jarnell Stokes (9.7 rpg) and Jeronne Maymon (8.2 rpg) have led the Vols to the second-highest rebounding margin in the conference.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, comes in as the second-worst rebounding team in the league. That’s an area UT will have to not only win, but dominate on Wednesday night. Tennessee will need second chances on the offensive end and every defensive board prevents another shot opportunity for Henderson or Summers.
Tennessee has home-court advantage, but Ole Miss should have a lot of confidence in this one. The Rebels knocked off UT by 18 in Knoxville last year and they are undefeated in in SEC games that Henderson has played in this season.
“His shots impact the game. I’d say out of the ten he missed (last game vs. Mississippi State), maybe eight that he missed, two guys ran at him, and his big guys get an offensive rebound. He shoots the ball, so his shots really impact the game. He shoots a lot of them. He can make a lot of them. He’s a threat at all times, whenever he touches the ball.”
– Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin on Marshall Henderson
Despite the loss to Florida last week, Tennessee did move up five spots (57 to 52) in the official RPI released on Monday due to the Vols’ victory over Arkansas last Wednesday. . Tennessee’s strength of schedule is at No. 11, according to ESPN’s updated rankings. The Vols would be one of the last teams into the NCAA tournament field if the season ended today, according to CBSSports.com’s updated breacket. . Last year’s win was the Rebels’ first victory in Knoxville since 1991. Ole Miss also knocked off UT 62-56 in the rematch in Oxford later in the season.
Ole Miss 80, Tennessee 72
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga