The #18 Tennessee Volunteers (11-3) have a massive game Saturday as they face the #15 Kansas Jayhawks (11-5) in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tipoff is at 6 pm, and the game will be televised on ESPN. The last time the two teams faced each other in Thompson-Boling Arena was in 2010, when Tennessee defeated Kansas 76-68.
The Vols snapped their two-game losing streak on Tuesday by defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 56-53. Senior Yves Pons led the team in scoring and was the only player to score double digits with 13 points. However, Tennessee struggled from the three-point line making only just 15.8% of their threes (3-19).
Kansas is in similar form as Tennessee at the moment. The Jayhawks have lost two of their 4 games, including their most recent game against Oklahoma State 75-70.
Tennessee is struggling offensively at the moment, averaging just 56 points a game in their last 3 games. However, this is a must-win for Rick Barnes and the Vols to improve their position for the NCAA Tournament.
Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology currently has Tennessee as a 5 seed and Kansas as a 4 seed. For the Vols to get their 2nd Top 15 win and improve their position, here is what they must do to beat Kansas:
Must Get More Out of John Fulkerson
John Fulkerson is not having the Senior campaign we all thought he would have. In fact, Fulkerson has been struggling badly in the last couple of games.
The Senior from Kingsport is just averaging 5.5 points a game in the last two games. Fulky must get out of this funk that he is in.
Fulkerson still leads the team in scoring and rebounds, averaging 11.2 points and 6 rebounds a game. But he has been getting abused in the paint this season.
John Fulkerson must develop a presence inside and get back to his scoring ways to beat the Jayhawks.
Shoot Better Behind The Arc
If there is one thing this Tennessee has been struggling with, it’s shooting the three-ball.
In the last 4 games, Tennessee has only made just 26.6% of their three-point shots
- 15.8% (3-19) vs Mississippi State
- 40.9% (9-22) vs Missouri
- 16.7% (3-18) @ Florida
- 33.3% (7-21) vs Vanderbilt
You are not going to win many basketball games, shooting less than 30% from the 3.
Tennessee needs to get out of this slump and make some key 3 pointers if they want to get this win over Kansas. Guys like Victor Bailey Jr and Santiago Vescovi have to step up their game and make some jumpers for the Vols. It is great that Jaden Springer, who leads the team in 3 point percentage with 56.3%, is back and will play Saturday. But if Tennessee has to rely on Springer again to get the 3 point game going, Tennessee will struggle to get a win.
Cutout The Turnovers
Tennessee has to find a way to cut out the turnovers; this has been the Vols kryptonite over the last 4 games. In the last 4 games, Tennessee has committed 52 turnovers, averaging 13 a game. Guard Santiago Vescovi alone has committed almost 1/4 of those turnovers with 10.
Tennessee has to limit these turnovers and do a better job controlling the basketball. John Fulkerson has had turnover the ball 6 times in the last two games. Vescovi and the Vols have to take care of the basketball and limit the turnovers.
If the Vols can do that, Tennessee can get their 2nd Top 15 win of the season and improve their seeding prediction for the NCAA Tournament.