Preview: Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt carries a three-game winning streak into WednesdayâÂÂs visit to Tennessee, which has won two straight following a 26-point loss at Florida. The Commodores are down to seven scholarship players, but theyâÂÂve bounced back from a 1-4 start in SEC play by holding their last three opponents to 55 points or fewer. Forward Rod Odom, averaging a team-high 14.3 points, scored 18 in the CommodoresâÂÂ 55-49 win over Mississippi State on Saturday.
Odom figures to score enough to keep the Commodores within striking distance, but the game could be decided in the paint. Tennessee forwards Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon are each ranked in the top three in the league in rebounding and the Volunteers are second in the SEC with a rebounding margin of plus-9. Vanderbilt needs another strong game from impressive 6-10 freshman center Damian Jones, who is averaging 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in league play.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (14-7, 5-3 SEC): Guard Jordan McRae has been held to an average of six points in four career games against Vanderbilt, but heâÂÂs entering WednesdayâÂÂs meeting on a high note after scoring 26 points in each of his last two games. Stokes, who ranks fifth nationally in offensive rebounding at 4.19 per game, had 22 points and 16 rebounds in SaturdayâÂÂs 76-59 win over Alabama. âÂÂJarnell is playing as well as any big guy in the country, as far as IâÂÂm concerned,âÂÂ coach Cuonzo Martin told reporters. âÂÂHeâÂÂs demanding the ball around the rim more and continuing to get better."
ABOUT VANDERBILT (12-8, 4-4): Odom, who was held to six points on 2-of-10 shooting in a 58-46 loss at Tennessee last season, has been the CommodoresâÂÂ most consistent scorer while shooting 43.5 percent from 3-point range. Guard Dai-Jon Parker played all 40 minutes for the fourth straight game on Saturday and finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Fatigue could also be a factor for guard Kyle Fuller, who is shooting 37 percent from the field in league play while averaging 38.8 minutes.
1. Tennessee is 14-3 in the month of February under Martin.
2. Vanderbilt is 11-0 this season when leading with two minutes remaining.
3. Tennessee leads the all-time series 113-70, including three straight.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 60, Vanderbilt 56