Tennessee Volunteers vs. Georgia Southern Eagles Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 12th 2023


No. 12 Tennessee will look to extend a pair of streaks on Tuesday when it hosts winless Georgia Southern in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Volunteers (6-3) answered a three-game skid against three ranked foes with a convincing victory over George Mason on Tuesday and delivered a spirited comeback versus then-No. 20 Illinois on Saturday. The 86-79 triumph over the Fighting Illini not only gave Tennessee back-to-back victories but also extended its nonconference home winning streak to 25 games.

Dalton Knecht scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half against Illinois. Knecht, who averages a team-best 19.2 points per game, has led the Volunteers in scoring in seven of his nine games this season.

Tennessee received double-digit scoring performances from all of its starters for the first time this season. Jonas Aidoo recorded 14 points and seven rebounds, Santiago Vescovi added 12 and nine, respectively, Josiah-Jordan James scored 12 points and Zakai Zeigler added 11.

While Volunteers coach Rick Barnes was content with what he saw on offense, he was quick to credit his charges for their play at the other end of the floor. Tennessee enjoyed a 43-34 edge on the boards against Illinois, who entered the game ranked among the national leaders in rebounds.

“Maybe the most focused I thought our guys were in terms of the details of our scouting report all year. I thought they were really, really locked in in terms of knowing what we had to do on the defensive end,” Barnes said. “We rebounded the ball against an outstanding rebounding team. They really are relentless and … it’s a nice win against a team that’s going to win a lot of basketball games this year and they’re as good as anybody that we’ve played up to this point. Really great effort from our guys.”

Barnes also made sure to send a verbal bouquet toward Vescovi, who previously was limited to just 14 minutes in a scoreless performance against North Carolina on Nov. 29.

“(Vescovi) is such a big part of who we’ve been,” Barnes said. “I’m really proud of him and the older guys. They were prepared for this. (Vescovi) had an aggressive mentality. He was able to have the ‘fix-it’ plays that are so important.”

Georgia Southern (0-9) hasn’t been able to fix much of anything this season, although there is some slight progress the Eagles can lean into.

Georgia Southern lost by double digits in six of its first seven games before enduring a two-point setback versus Jacksonville on Dec. 2 and an eight-point defeat against North Florida on Saturday. The Eagles led at halftime for the first time all season versus the Ospreys before seeing their seven-point lead evaporate in a 64-56 loss.

Avantae Parker collected 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks against North Florida. Tyren Moore, who averages a team-leading 11.9 points on the season, joined Nate Brafford and Eren Banks in scoring 10 points for Georgia Southern.

–Field Level Media

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