Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 7th 2022

Stadium: Thompson-Boling Arena Knoxville
Logo Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles
Logo Tennessee Volunteers

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No. 11 Tennessee won't officially open the season until hosting Tennessee Tech on Monday in Knoxville, Tenn., but the Volunteers already have a big win -- even if it doesn't count.

The Volunteers defeated No. 2 Gonzaga 99-80 in an exhibition for charity on Oct. 29 in Frisco, Texas.

Guard Tyreke Key scored a game-high 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range.

Key, a graduate transfer from Indiana State, didn't play last year after undergoing shoulder surgery. But against Gonzaga, he showed he could provide an immediate impact for the Volunteers, who are coming off their first Southeastern Conference tournament title since 1979.

"Tyreke came from a level that is extremely good -- the Missouri Valley Conference is a great basketball league," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "You see so many of those guys that have transferred up that have done well."

Forward Uros Plavsic had 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting, while five-star freshman Julian Phillips had 12 points, all in the second half. Phillips has drawn praise from Barnes.

"His time here, it's been incredible," Barnes told 247Sports about the 6-foot-8 Phillips. "Almost like a dream to coach him."

Tennessee is looking to go deeper in March after losing in the Round of 32 to Michigan last year.

The Volunteers return several key players, including guards Santiago Vescovi (13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game, 40.3 percent from 3-point range), Josiah-Jordan James (10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds) and Zakai Zeigler (8.8 points, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals).

Tennessee also is counting on increased production from forward Olivier Nkamhoua (8.6 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Plavsic (4.2 points, 4.0 rebounds) after leading scorer Kennedy Chandler (13.9 ppg) was selected in the second round of the NBA draft.

"We think we have more quality depth than we've had in a long time," Barnes said.

Tennessee Tech features 13 newcomers, giving the Golden Eagles a decidedly different team than the one that went 11-21 overall and 7-10 in the Ohio Valley Conference last season.

"Sometimes when people think things are falling apart, they are falling into place," Tennessee Tech coach John Pelphrey said at OVC Media Day. "We have embraced the new way of doing things in college basketball. Sometimes in order to have progress, you have got to have change."

Guard Diante Wood, who averaged 6.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season, is the team's top returning player. He recorded seven rebounds, six assists and four points in an 80-69 exhibition win over visiting Cumberland on Oct. 27.

Guard Brett Thompson, a transfer from Mineral Area Community College in Missouri, scored a team-high 17 points, while Ty Perry, a graduate transfer from Lafayette, added 13 points and three assists. Guard Grant Slatten, who arrived from Ole Miss, finished with seven points.

"We have made progress and we want to make more," Pelphrey said. "We have a competitive group of guys who value leadership and that's a great place to start."

--Field Level Media

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles
Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles vs. Tennessee Volunteers Recap NOV 26TH 2021

Reserve Brandon Huntley-Hatfield had eight of his 12 points in a momentum-changing run that put No. 15 Tennessee ahead for good as it held off the upset bid of Tennessee Tech and went on to an 80-69 victory Friday in Knoxville, Tenn.

Olivier Nkamhoua scored 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting, Kennedy Chandler had 15 and John Fulkerson had 14 for the Volunteers (4-1). Santiago Vescovi added 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Jr. Clay led Tennessee Tech (2-4) with 19 points.

Huntley-Hatfield, who entered the game averaging 4.5 points, had the last two baskets in a 16-4 run that put the Vols ahead 58-49 with 9:17 left in the game.

The short-handed Vols were without Josiah-Jordan James, an ace defender, who missed a second straight game for because of a finger injury and flu-like symptoms. Teammate Justin Powell also sat out with flu-like symptoms.

The Vols eventually stretched their lead to 14 points in the final minutes but never turned it into a blowout as they had in the previous two meetings, a 103-49 victory last season and a 96-53 win in December 2018.

The first half was typified by the final few possessions. After Tennessee finally established a 34-28 lead on back-to-back baskets by Fulkerson in the paint, both on assists by Vescovi, the Golden Eagles concluded the half with a 7-0 run for a 35-34 advantage at intermission.

Worst of all, Tennessee coach Rick Barnes called a timeout with 17 seconds left to set up a play for his team's final possession of the half, figuring the Vols could do no worse than go into the locker room with a 34-32 lead. But Chandler turned the ball over and Clay cashed in with a three-pointer with one second left to send the Golden Eagles in with a halftime lead.

Tennessee's fortunes didn't improve immediately after halftime, either. Clay's fast-break layup after a miss by Fulkerson put the Golden Eagles ahead, 45-42, 3:03 into the second half, marking their biggest lead of the game before the Vols finally restored order.

--Field Level Media