NCAA Basketball

No. 1 Tennessee takes new ranking on the road vs. Vanderbilt

(AP Photo/Shawn Millsaps)

Tennessee puts its fresh No. 1 ranking on the line as the Vols head three hours west to take on arch-rival Vanderbilt in a matchup Wednesday in Nashville.

The Vols, (16-1, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) ranked No. 1 for just the second time in school history, received 48 of a possible 64 votes in the Associated Press Top 25. Tennessee rides a 12-game winning streak, its only loss coming in overtime to Kansas on Nov. 23.

Tennessee is a 12-point favorite according to Ken Pomeroy. It faces a Vanderbilt team (9-8, 0-5 SEC) that's dropped its first five SEC games, including Saturday's 71-55 home loss to then-No. 24 Mississippi State.

One might expect the Vols to relax a bit as they head to Nashville, but history shows that would not be wise.

First, the Vols just got a scare from Alabama on their home floor on Saturday. UT blew a 15-point lead and found itself trailing until senior guard Admiral Schofield's bucket with 2:14 left put the Vols ahead for good in a 71-68 victory.

Second, Tennessee's only other No. 1 ranking came to a screeching halt against the same opponent, and in the same venue, where the Vols play Wednesday. The Commodores, ranked No. 18 at the time, beat the Vols, 72-69, on Feb. 26, 2008.

To boot, the Vols are a smart, mature team led by veteran coach Rick Barnes, who took the ranking in stride when asked about it on Monday.

"I think it's a compliment that these have continued to try to build this program to the level that we'd all like to see, to see if we can keep it there," Barnes said. "But we haven't made a big deal about it."

Tennessee is led by a pair of All-American candidates in junior forward Grant Williams (18.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, .561 field goal percentage) and Schofield (17.4, 6.5, .504). That's compounded by the fact that the Vols have four other guys -- guards Jordan Bone (13.2 points), Jordan Bowden (10.8), Lamonte Turner (10.5) and center Kyle Alexander (9.9) -- who can score, too.

Scoring has uncharacteristically been an issue for Vanderbilt. VU has looked lost offensively without point guard Darius Garland, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in November.

VU scored 47, 71 and 55 points in its last three games, and has shot poorly across the board. The Commodores don't have a player among the SEC's top 22 scorers in conference games, though freshman guard Aaron Nesmith, who has scored in double figures the last three games including 23 in a loss to South Carolina last week, is a threat.

The main culprit has been foul shooting. The Commodores' 119 free throw attempts in league games is ranked tied for third, but their 60.5 free throw percentage is dead last.

So has youth. The Commodores rank 305th in the country in experience, according to Pomeroy.

"Unfortunately, I can't create any drills or anything in practice that equals experience, and so a lot of times we do it well in practice and you get into the game and it's usually underclassmen that just don't make the simple play we practiced," coach Bryce Drew said after Saturday's defeat.

The Vols have won the last two games against Vanderbilt in Nashville, last year's being a 92-84 victory.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 23, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2019 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Teams Score Time
Interleague
Washington   8:08pm
Houston  
Teams Score Time
New Orleans   8:00pm
Toronto  
Los Angeles   10:30pm
Los Angeles  
Teams Score Time
Arizona 1 06:11 1st
New York 0
Pittsburgh 0 04:44 1st
Florida 0
San Jose 1 06:05 1st
Buffalo 0
Toronto 0 07:08 1st
Boston 0
Vancouver   7:30pm
Detroit  
Anaheim   8:00pm
Nashville  
Edmonton   8:00pm
Minnesota  
Los Angeles   8:00pm
Winnipeg  
Vegas   8:30pm
Chicago  
Washington   9:00pm
Calgary  
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT KANSAS
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 11 Denny Hamlin 23
2 9 Chase Elliott 14
3 18 Kyle Busch 18
4 1 Kurt Busch 15
5 24 William Byron 25
6 19 Martin Truex Jr 11
7 20 Erik Jones 20
8 14 Clint Bowyer 21
9 4 Kevin Harvick 40
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT KANSAS
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 19 Brandon Jones 2
2 2 Tyler Reddick 4
3 98 Chase Briscoe 11
4 1 Michael Annett 38
5 7 Justin Allgaier 7
6 51 Jeremy Clements 6
7 11 Justin Haley 12
8 23 John Hunter Nemechek 15
9 39 Ryan Sieg 13
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT TALLADEGA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Spencer Boyd 25
2 4 Todd Gilliland 6
3 51 Riley Herbst 7
4 24 Brett Moffitt 8
5 52 Stewart Friesen 10
6 16 Austin Hill 13
7 17 Tyler Ankrum 2
8 88 Matt Crafton 1
9 2 Sheldon Creed 5