Tennessee Volunteers vs. NC State Wolfpack Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 16th 2023

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Teams riding three-game winning streaks will collide Saturday night when No. 12 Tennessee faces North Carolina State in a Hall of Fame series game at San Antonio.

The Volunteers (7-3) have won by an average of 15.3 points during their streak, while the Wolfpack (7-2) have prevailed by an average of 17.3 points.

Tennessee knocked off Georgia Southern 74-56 Tuesday as Jonas Aidoo scored a career-best 29 points. Aidoo also matched his season high of 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season and third of his career.

“My teammates were looking for me every time I ran down the court,” Aidoo said afterward. “They were just feeding me the ball, and I was looking for buckets.”

The play of Aidoo has been a welcome surprise this season. He is second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game and leads the Vols in rebounding (7.5) and blocked shots (18 total).

Last season, Aidoo averaged 5.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 35 appearances (nine starts).

“It goes to consistency,” Volunteers coach Rick Barnes said. “Again, getting the ball there. He is going to have to — we keep talking about his space on the court, where he can get it and again the most he goes, the more attention he is going to get. He is going to have to work harder and harder to get his space on the court.”

Barnes was less than thrilled with the second half of the contest that saw his team outscored by 10 points. Tennessee shot 60 percent from the field in the first half but just 28.6 percent in the second.

Also, the Volunteers committed 19 turnovers during the wire-to-wire victory.

“We didn’t get it done in the second half,” Barnes said. “We talked from the beginning about these guys being the kind of leaders we want them to be. It goes back to consistency.”

NC State cruised to an 81-67 home win over UT Martin on Tuesday.

DJ Horne tied his career best of six 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 22 points to pace the Wolfpack.

Horne previously played two seasons apiece at Illinois State and Arizona State and indicated things have meshed for him at NC State. He averages 13.3 points as one of four players contributing at least 13 points per game.

“When new guys come in, you can have ups and downs,” Horne said afterward. “I think we are starting to trend in an upward direction.”

Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts is pleased with the recent improvement of Horne, who scored in single digits in three of the club’s first six games. Now he has scored over 20 in two of the past three.

“He has shot the ball better in practice than he has in the game,” Keatts said. “He started to learn how to play defense. Early in the season, he was one of those guys who was a little resistant to get after it. When the game started, it kind of affected him on the offensive end. I think he’s getting into more game shape to be able to play that way.”

Jayden Taylor is averaging a team-leading 14.7 points per game for NC State while D.J. Burns Jr. is tied with Horne at 13.3. Casey Morsell averages 13.0.

Dalton Knecht, a transfer from Northern Colorado, leads the Volunteers with an 18.0 scoring average. He had a season-low seven points against Georgia Southern.

This will be the 12th meeting between the schools, with NC State holding a 7-4 edge. However, Tennessee won the most recent matchup, 67-59 on Nov. 24, 2017, in the third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

–Field Level Media

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