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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) -- Knoxville, Tennessee. Television: FSN-S, SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: TXA&M 10-1, UT 7-1. Away Record: TXA&M 0-0, UT 1-2. Neutral Record: TXA&M 0-3, UT 2-1. Conference Record: TXA&M 1-0, UT 1-0. Series Record: Tennessee leads, 5-1.
GAME NOTES: Both the Texas A&M Aggies and the Tennessee Volunteers will attempt to extend their respective winning streaks on Saturday afternoon when the squads meets up at Thompson-Boling Arena for an SEC showdown.
Texas A&M has won back-to-back games, most recently claiming its SEC opener at home versus Arkansas on Wednesday night, 69-53. The Aggies are now 10-4 overall this season, but while they are 0-3 in neutral-court matchups, this will mark their first true road game.
Tennessee has been even hotter than Texas A&M in recent weeks, winning a season-high four straight games, which includes a convincing 68-50 road victory at LSU on Tuesday to start its SEC slate 1-0. The Vols, who are also 10-4 on the season, have played especially well in Knoxville, winning seven of eight games at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols have beaten the Aggies in five of six all-time meetings, including last season's 93-85 decision in College Station, the first matchup between the teams since 2003.
The Aggies shot just 40.7 percent from the field in their most recent contest, but they cruised to the 16-point victory by playing their patented style of lock-down defense, as they held Arkansas to a mere 36.2 percent shooting (including 4-of-19 from 3-point range). Davonte Fitzgerald paced the effort, scoring 17 points in just 19 minutes off the bench. Fabyon Harris scored 15, Jamal Jones tallied 14 points and eight rebounds and Alex Caruso got his teammates involved with 11 assists.
On the season, Texas A&M is often hindered by a poor offensive output, as their 69.6 ppg ranks last in the SEC, but it is saved by owning an outstanding scoring defense (60.1 ppg), which ranks behind only Florida in the league rankings. Kourtney Roberson acts as an anchor down low, putting up 10.7 ppg (on 60.4 percent from the field), 7.9 rpg and 1.0 bpg. Jones (10.0 ppg) is the only other play to net in double figures, but Caruso (9.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.3 spg), Jordan Green (8.1 ppg) and Harris (7.8 ppg) have also been solid.
Tennessee overcame its tough road environment in Baton Rouge earlier in the week by outshooting LSU from the field, 46.2 percent to 36.7 percent, as it carried a 14-point lead into intermission and never saw that advantage dip below double digits for the rest of the night. Jordan McRae was nearly flawless in the win, shooting 6-of-7 from the field (including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc) and 4-of-4 from the foul line for a game-high 19 points. Jarnell Stokes was a beast down low with a true double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Antonio Barton brought 14 points to the table on 4-of-7 from 3-point range.
The Vols are one of the SEC's most well-rounded squads, as they rank in the league's top-five in both points scored (76.1 ppg) and points allowed (61.9 ppg), which has resulted in an outstanding +14.1 scoring margin. They also live comfortably in the green in terms of their rebounding (+8.7) and turnover (+2.4) margins. McRae is the SEC's third-leading scorer, pouring in 18.9 ppg on greater than 47 percent field goal shooting. Stokes (13.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.0 rpg) and Jeronne Maymon (10.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) make up an intimidating frontcourt duo that few teams can contend with.
While both teams possess excellent defenses, Tennessee's scoring attack has been much more effective than Texas A&M's, and playing at home, the Vols shouldn't have much of an issue moving to 2-0 in the SEC against an Aggies squad untested on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 68, Texas A&M 58
01/11 12:26:44 ET
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