Tennessee has its second of three games in six days Monday night as the Vols will welcome St. Joseph’s to Thompson-Boling Arena.
Like Tennessee, St Joe’s has had a COVID-19 team shutdown that’s canceled two matchups and postponed another. Due to the canceled matchups and a strong strength of schedule the Hawks are 0-4.
Two of the St. Joe’s losses came to top 10 teams Villanova and Kansas while another was an overtime loss to Auburn.
No. 10 Tennessee enters the matchup 4-0 and 21.5-point favorites over the visiting Hawks. The Vols are coming off a lopsided, 103-49 win over Tennessee Tech. The Big Orange’s offense clicked for the first time this season and remained balanced with six players scoring in double digits.
“We like it and we want to have depth,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “In the past we have had to play through one or two guys and now we have different things we can do because we do have depth and we know that we have really good defensive depth. We still have to get better and still have a ways to go in different areas there and we have to continue to develop a consistent offense with depth. If we can do what we did tonight, it’s something we saw ourselves doing.”
Tennessee will have a chance to build off of its offensive success against Tennessee Tech when facing a St. Joe’s team that’s struggled mightily on the defensive end this season. The Hawks opponents are scoring 89.8 points per game and all four have scored in the 80s.
On the other hand, St. Joe’s offense has been strong this season, scoring 77 points per game.
Something will have to give when the Hawks travel to Knoxville and face a Tennessee defense that’s allowed just 47.5 points per game and has allowed only one opponent to score in the 50s.
“This is what we do,” Tennessee forward Yves Pons said. “We’re a defensive team and we’re trying to meet our goals of keeping every team under 65 points a night. That’s what we’ve been doing. We just need to keep it going, do what we practice, play hard defense and try to hold our opponents to under 65 points.”
Offensively, the Hawks are led by a pair of tall, upperclassmen guards in Ryan Daly and Tyler Funk who both play over 28 minutes a game.
Daly, a 6-foot-5 senior, leads St. Joe’s in both points (18.2 per game) and rebounds (six per game). The Pennsylvania native isn’t without his flaws, shooting only 18% from three point range while turning it over 3.8 times per game.
Funk, a 6-foot-8 junior, is a difficult matchup for most teams due to his size, 48% shooting from 3-point range and guard skills. Tennessee isn’t short on tall guards and will likely guard him with Josiah Jordan James, Yves Pons and others. Funk is averaging 16.5 points and six rebounds per contest.
Freshman forward Jordan Hall is the due it all guy for St. Joe’s doing similar things as to what James does for Tennessee. The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native leads the Hawks in assists with 4.5 a game while also recording 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.
With the plethora of tall guards, St. Joe’s doesn’t play a ton of big men and will frequently run four guard sets.
Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.