Vols host Ole Miss Wednesday

Published 12:49 am Tuesday, January 4, 2022

CONTRIBUTED BY UT ATHLETICS
KNOXVILLE – The 18th-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team returns to Thompson-Boling Arena for its SEC home opener Wednesday, hosting Ole Miss at 7 p.m. ET.
Fans can catch Wednesday’s game on SEC Network and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch.
Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analysis) will have the call.  Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp calling the action.
The broadcast is also available on channel 134 on Sirius, channel 190 on SiriusXM and channel 961 on the SiriusXM app.
Playing without two season-long starters, Tennessee (9-3) dropped its SEC opener on the road last Wednesday to No. 19 Alabama, 73-68. In the absence of super senior forward John Fulkerson and freshman guard Kennedy Chandler, junior forward Olivier Nkamhoua stepped up for the Vols with a 15-point, nine-rebound performance.
Junior guard Santiago Vescovi and freshman guard Zakai Zeigler also scored in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Up next, Tennessee is back on the road this weekend, traveling down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take on No. 21 LSU on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. ET on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
THE SERIES
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Ole Miss, 75-45, dating to 1924.• When the series is contested in Knoxville, the Vols own a 43-12 advantage.• While Ole Miss won last season’s meeting in Oxford (52-50), the Vols have won five of the last six in this series.
• Ole Miss had its scheduled SEC opener (Dec. 29) against Florida postponed, so the Rebels haven’t played since a 75-73 home loss to Samford on Dec. 21.•
The last time these programs met in Knoxville, John Fulkerson scored 16 first-half points en route to an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double that fueled UT to a 25-point win (73-48).• In that same game, Olivier Nkamhoua shot a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line while totaling 10 points, one assist and two blocks in 19 minutes as a true freshman.
LAYUP LINES – TEAM
According to KenPom, the Vols rank second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 85.7 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.• The Vols rank among the Division I top 10 in turnover margin (+6.6, 6th) and assist/turnover ratio (+1.64, 8th).
• Tennessee’s 10.9 turnovers per game is the lowest (best) average in the SEC.• Tennessee owns a +28.7 scoring margin at home this season (85.6 ppg to 56.9 ppg).• 43 percent of Tennessee’s points this season have been scored by first-year Vols (402 of 930).
• The Vols are attempting 8.2 more 3-pointers per game than they did last season (28.1 per game compared to 19.9). In wins, UT is shooting .386 from long range. In losses, that average drops to .188.
• Tennessee ranks fifth nationally in average home attendance this season, drawing 16,692 fans per game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
LAYUP LINES – PLAYERS
Tennessee was without its first- and third-leading scorers last week at Alabama, as Kennedy Chandler and John Fulkerson did not travel due to COVID management protocols.• Chandler’s 5.3 assists per game rank second in Division I among true freshmen
• If Fulkerson returns to action Wednesday, it will be his 143rd career game played as a Vol. He will pass Wayne Chism (142 from 2006-10) to stand alone atop Tennessee’s all-time games played list. See note below.• The SEC record for career games played is 152, held by Kentucky’s Darius Miller (2008-12).
• With Fulkerson out, forwards Olivier Nkamhoua (15), Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (8) and Uros Plavsic (6) combined to give the Vols 29 points at Alabama.• Junior guard Santiago Vescovi has 13 steals over UT’s last five games (2.6 spg).
DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS
The Vols’ current scoring defense of 60.4 ppg is the program’s best since 1968-69 (58.9 ppg).• Tennessee has held its last nine opponents under 1.0 points per possession.
• In handing No. 6 Arizona its first loss of the season, the Vols were the first team to hold the Wildcats—who boasted the highest scoring average in Division I (91.0 ppg)—to fewer than 80 points.
• Tennessee’s 76-36 win over UNC Greensboro on Dec. 11 marked UT’s fewest points allowed during the shot-clock era. It was the lowest point total for an opponent since Ohio Northern scored 33 in 1983.
• The Vols are forcing 17.5 turnovers per game and averaging 21.6 points off turnovers• The Vols have forced 25 turnovers—a Barnes-era best—twice this season, vs. Presbyterian and UNCG.• UT’s 10.3 steals per game rank 12th in Division I.• The Vols average 30.4 deflections per game.
 ZEIGLER WON’T BACK DOWN
True freshman guard Zakai Zeigler has proven to a rock-solid addition to this Tennessee roster. He exploded for a team-high 18 points in the Vols’ win over North Carolina.• Zeigler ranks sixth on the team in scoring (6.8 ppg) and third in total assists (32) while logging 17.7 minutes primarily off the bench.
• Among Vols who average five or more minutes per game, Zeigler owns the best plus/minus rating per 40 minutes at +22.4.• Zeigler also owns a 2.0 assist/turnover ratio.