No. 7 Tennessee takes on No. 4 Kentucky inside Thompson-Boling Arena at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. OWR writers Matthew Dossett and Charlie Burris took a stab at predicting what will happen between the Vols and Cats.
Tennessee is currently a 3-point favorite and the over/under is set at 141…
Matthew Dossett (@MatthewD9999):
Despite losing to Kentucky and LSU during the latter stretch of Tennessee’s schedule, the Vols have a prime opportunity Saturday to put the conference and the nation on notice that the Big Orange is for real. The Vols host Kentucky. Yes, those same Wildcats that stomped UT in Lexington, but, t
I expect this game to be much more competitive than the initial meeting. Playing in Thompson Boling Arena will definitely help and give Tennessee a shot in the arm. At the point of writing this, it looks like big man Reid Travis is likely to be out for
Again, look for a barn burner in Knoxville Saturday. I expect a heavy weight battle, where both teams exchange blows for the entire game. Ultimately, I think Rick Barnes and crew get another signature victory.
Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris):
This game, no matter if it’s played in Lexington or Knoxville, always makes me nervous. On top of bragging rights over the preeminent powerhouse in SEC basketball, there’s often a lot riding on this game. And today is no different. If the Vols win, they’ll stay tied for first place in the league with LSU and they’ll drop Kentucky down to second place with two games to play. Needless to say, it’s a massive matchup.
At a baseline, I think this game will go MUCH differently than the disaster in Lexington. For starters, Kentucky center Reid Travis likely won’t be playing. This alone should take a bit of a load off of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield when they play around the basket. P.J. Washington is still going to be a load and he must be stopped but I fully expect an extra emphasis to be put on not letting him take over the game.
Perhaps more than anything, I think Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden have to step up. When they have big games, everything changes for this team. And of course, Kyle Alexander having a solid outing is extremely important. Specifically, he needs to be a force on the boards and not let UT get dominated on the glass like they were in the last meeting.
But easily the element that I think will help the Vols the most in this one is the home crowd. The hype for this game is through the roof and TBA is going to be packed to the brim with orange. Oh, and let’s not forget that Rick Barnes has never lost to Kentucky in Knoxville. Add all of this together and I think Tennessee grinds out a win over the Cats and continues to control its destiny in the SEC