The Vols vs. LSU

Tennessee's Jordan Bowden, #23, after shooting the ball during the Tennessee and LSU basketball game on Saturday, January 4, 2020 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

A pair of struggling 8-5 teams are set to meet Tuesday night in the “Show Me” state as Tennessee travels to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Missouri Tigers.

Missouri has looked much like expected when the Tigers were picked to finish 13th in the SEC preseason by the media. The Tigers haven’t surprised many in Cuonzo Martin’s third season as head coach getting off to an 8-5 start.

Missouri struggled out of the gate this season losing to its first three quality opponents, Butler, Xavier and Oklahoma while also getting upset at home against Charleston Southern. Missouri has bounced back in recent weeks getting a win over rival Illinois on a neutral site and winning at a 2019 NCAA Tournament team in Temple.

Missouri dropped its SEC opener but played well in a 12-point loss at Kentucky.  

In typical Cuonzo Martin fashion the Tigers are a defensive minded team that struggles on the offensive side of the ball. Add on Tennessee’s offensive struggles this season, expect a low scoring slugfest in Columbia Tuesday night.

Missouri ranks 12thin the SEC scoring 67.3 points per game while Tennessee ranks 13thscoring 66.9 points per game. Both teams do rank higher in 3-pointers made as Missouri hits 6.8 3-pointers a game while Tennessee hit 6.3 3-pointers a game. The marks let Tennessee rank 10th in the SEC and Missouri ranks 6th.

Expect Tennessee’s 3-point shooting numbers to go up as midterm enrollee Santiago Vescovi showed an ability to hit jump shots making six triples in his debut.

Vescovi has a big task ahead of him Tuesday night due to Missouri’s ability to turn teams over. Vescovi turned the ball over eight times in his debut and Missouri comes in ranked 5thin the SEC, getting 7.6 steals a game.

If Tennessee wants to go on the road and win as 4-point underdogs Vescovi has to do a better job of taking care of the ball. However, Barnes and Vescovi’s teammates didn’t seem too concerned with the turnovers following Saturday’s loss to LSU.

“He shot the ball well, but his turnovers were big,” Barnes said following Saturday’s game. “He knows it, but a lot of that had to do with fatigue. That was probably my fault leaving him out there for too long. He looked tired.”

“We knew he had great feel for the game,” Josiah-Jordan James said. “He barely had any turnovers in practice, and he’s going to be fine about the turnovers. I already know that.”

Missouri boasts a pair of guards averaging over 10 points per game as Dru Smith is the Tiger’s due it all guy, averaging 11.7 points per game while dishing out 4.2 assists a game and grabbing 4.5 rebounds.

Mark Smith averages 11.5 points per game for the Tigers while averaging a team high 4.8 rebounds.

Forward Jeremiah Tillmon is also a reliable scorer averaging nine points a game and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SEC Network.

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