Tennessee looks to work out any layoff kinks when it hosts Division II Tusculum on Saturday in the Volunteers' final tune-up before they begin SEC play. Tennessee, which is coming off its biggest win in coach Cuonzo Martin's three seasons in Knoxville, hopes to pick up where it left off in 2013 after Monday's 87-52 dismantling of Virginia, which had been the second-stingiest squad in the nation at 54.2 points per game allowed. With their third wire-to-wire victory this season, the Volunteers appear to be hitting their stride as their Jan. 7 SEC opener at LSU looms.
Having won six of seven at home this season, the Volunteers don't figure to get much of a test from the struggling Pioneers, who have designated the contest an exhibition game. Tennessee's Jordan McRae has put on a scoring exhibition for Tennessee, averaging a team-leading 18.9 points while scoring 20 or more points seven times this season, including three of the past four games. Josh Richardson has had the hot hand of late, though, leading the Volunteers with an average of 19.5 points over their last two wins.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, N/A
ABOUT TUSCULUM (1-11): Playing out of the South Atlantic Conference, the Pioneers have been ravaged by injuries, with seven players missing a combined 36 games. Coming off a 108-87 loss to East Tennessee State, Tusculum's leading scorer is Addison Flynn at 17.5 points per game with Flynn ranking third in the SAC in 3-pointers per game (3.3). Darius Carter has chipped in 14.8 points while leading the Pioneers in assists (4.1) and free throw percentage (81.3) while West Virginia State transfer Jalen Walker is averaging 13.4 points as a sophomore.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (8-4): In addition to McRae and Richardson, the Volunteers have been sparked by Jarnell Stokes, averaging 14.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, and Jeronne Maymon, averaging 10.7 points and shooting 50.6 percent from the floor. Stokes is second in the SEC in rebounding where Tennessee is also second in offensive rebounds per game (15.4) and tied with Arkansas for the conference lead in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.3. Only five out of 351 teams in Division I are averaging fewer turnovers per game than Tennessee (9.4), which has forced an average of just over 12 turnovers per game.
1. The Vols have hosted the Pioneers in three exhibition games over the past decade, but the two have not met in a regular-season game since 1944.
2. In its win over Virginia, Tennessee had three 20-point scorers for the first time in a regulation game since 2008.
3. Tennessee leads the series 10-2, including the last five meetings between the two oldest colleges in the state -b oth founded in 1794
PREDICTION: Tennessee 91, Tusculum 73