Tennessee (3-1) vs. Texas-El Paso (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 28, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Imperial Arena (3,900) -- Paradise Island, Bahamas. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: Tennessee 3-0, UTEP 3-1. Away Record: Tennessee 0-1, UTEP 0-1. Neutral Record: Tennessee 0-0, UTEP 0-0. Conference Record: Tennessee 0-0, UTEP 0-0. Series Record: UTEP leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In the final first-round matchup of the opening day of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, the Tennessee Volunteers will collide with the Texas-El Paso Miners at Imperial Arena in the Bahamas.
Since losing to Xavier in the season opener, the Volunteers have won three straight games, all at home. The most recent victory was an 88-67 rout of in- state foe Tennessee State.
As for UTEP, the hope on Thursday is that the team can bounce back from a 77-68 loss against New Mexico State last time out. The setback ended a two- game win streak for the now 3-2 Miners. Both of those losses came against the Aggies, who the Miners were playing in a home-and-home series.
The Volunteers may get a shot at revenge against Xavier during the tournament as the winner of this contest faces the victor between the Musketeers and No. 23 Iowa in the semifinals. The loser of that contest and this one will also be paired up.
UTEP was still known as Texas Western College the last time these teams faced off. In that matchup the Miners claimed a 77-57 triumph during the Sun Carnival Classic Tournament in December of 1962.
Against a winless Tennessee State squad, the Volunteers were able to impose their will on both ends of the floor. Tennessee netted 55.4 percent of their shots from the floor and held the Tigers to 43.5 percent shooting. Tennessee also had a 36-20 edge on the boards and a 48-24 advantage on points in the paint.
Even with a loss on the ledger the Volunteers are still in possession of a fairly hefty scoring margin this season (+13), as they are netting 77.8 points per game, while holding foes to 64.8 points a contest on 42.9 percent shooting. Jordan McRae (21.5 ppg) is carrying the offensive load for the Volunteers and doing so at an efficient rate. The 6-foot-6 guard is hitting more than 50 percent of his shots and has scored 20 or more points in three of four contests. Jarnell Stokes (11.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) is the second best scoring option and teams with Jeronne Maymon (9.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg) in a skilled frontcourt.
Cedrick Lang recorded an impressive double-double, with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but UTEP still couldn't overcome NMSU. The Miners scored eight fewer points from the free-throw line and had an 18-9 deficit in points from beyond the arc in the loss.
The returns on the young season have been more meager for the Miners, who own a scoring margin of +8.4. The Miners are netting 74.8 points per game and hitting a shade over 45 percent from the floor, while holding foes to 35.7 percent. The squad boasts four double-figure scorers, led by McKenzie Moore (14.0 ppg, 3.3 apg), who also leads the team in assists. However, Moore missed the last outing with a concussion but is expected to play on Thursday. Lang (11.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is normally the second option behind Moore but showed an ability to carry the offense in the loss to NMSU. Julian Washburn (10.4 ppg) and Vince Hunter (10.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) provide additional scoring depth.
Even with Moore back the Miners don't have enough to hang with the Volunteers in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 78, Texas-El Paso 65
11/28 10:33:27 ET