The No. 21 ranked Tennessee Volunteers (12-4, 4-2 SEC) will travel to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers (12-5, 2-2 SEC) on Wednesday night as it looks for its fourth straight win. A win for the Volunteers would give them four road wins this year after totaling just five all of last season. Tennessee would also notch its first four-game SEC win streak since 2014 under former head coach Cuonzo Martin.
Martin officially has the Tigers back on track in his first season as head coach after posting just an 8-24 record in 2016. Missouri’s only two SEC losses this season have come against Arkansas and Florida by a combined four points. The Tigers have a swarming defense thats ranks third in the SEC in points allowed per game at just over 66 points.
Missouri is led by the senior duo of Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett, who was previously recruited by the Volunteers. Robertson (16 points per game) and Barnett (15 points per game) lead the team in points and shoot over 40 percent from 3-point range. Junior forward counterpart Kevin Puryear is the only other player averaging near double-digits, while also hauling in six rebounds per game.
The Tigers last game out was a heartbreaking 65-63 lost to Arkansas after coming back from an 18-point lead at half. Missouri was leading 57-53 with four minutes remaining in the game before it saw its lead evaporate. Robertson and Barnett combined for 38 points and 18 rebounds in the devastating loss. The Tigers still managed to lose despite an awful 14-of-25 performance from the Razorbacks at the free throw line.
Tennessee now ranks No. 18 in the nation in BPI Ranking, which determines how strong a team will perform for the rest of the season. The Volunteers are on a conference win streak powered by forward Grant Williams’ impressive combined 64 points over the last three games.
The Vols have also received valuable contributions from Admiral Schofield, who has tallied two 20-point games in the three-game stretch. Schofield has been the leading rebounder for the Vols in six of the last seven games. He also has logged 18 steals this season, which is three short of his combined 21 steals in his first two seasons in Knoxville.
Tennessee now leads the SEC in assists per game, rebounding margin, and are second in scoring offense with an average of 84 points per game. This is precisely what won head coach Rick Barnes’ 1,000th game over Texas A&M last Saturday. The Vols out-rebounded the Aggies 38-29 and had 16 total assists in the convincing 75-62 win by the orange-and-white.
Barnes and the Vols showed that they can be efficient without Williams on the court against Texas A&M. Schofield, as well as three other Tennessee players, logged over 10 points in the game to fill in for Williams nine points. Guards Jordan Bowden and Jordan Bone combined for 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of Brad Blackwelder