NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee men’s basketball team opens its journey through the 2020 SEC Tournament with a second-round matchup against Alabama on Tuesday afternoon. Tipoff from Bridgestone Arena is set for 1 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
Thursday’s game can be seen on SEC Network, online through WatchESPN and on any mobile device through the ESPN App. Fans can access WatchESPN at espn.com/watch. Mike Morgan, Jimmy Dykes and Marty Smith will have the call.
Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertlekamp describing the action.
Last time out, the Vols fell in their regular-season finale to Auburn, 85-63. In his final regular-season home game, senior Jordan Bowden finished with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal.
All-SEC second team member John Fulkerson led the Vols in scoring with 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and a 9-of-13 ledger from the foul line.
A victory on Thursday would give UT a three-game win streak in its series with the Crimson Tide and give the Vols at least one victory in each of the last three SEC Tournaments.
With a win, Tennessee will move on to take on the SEC Tournament’s top seed, Kentucky, on Friday afternoon in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. Tipoff for that potential matchup is set for 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.
• Tennessee trails the all-time series with Alabama, 70-79, dating to 1914.
• The Vols won this season’s lone meeting back on Feb. 4 by a score of 69-68 at Coleman Coliseum.
• The programs have met 15 times in the SEC Tournament, with Bama holding a 10-5 advantage. That includes a pair of Tide wins in Nashville.
• Rick Barnes was an assistant coach at Alabama during the 1985-86 season.
A WIN WOULD…
• Give Tennessee a three-game win streak in its series vs. Alabama.
• Make the Vols 10-8 in SEC Tournament games played at Bridgestone Arena.
• Give UT at least one victory in each of the last three SEC Tournaments.
• Give Tennessee 75 victories over the last three seasons.
• Tennessee has advanced to the championship game in each of the last two SEC Tournaments.
• During SEC play, Tennessee led the league in blocks (5.6 bpg) and owned the conference’s second-best scoring defense (67.7 ppg).
• SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has blocked at least one shot in every game this season.
• For the second year in a row, Tennessee finished the regular season ranked fourth nationally in average home attendance, drawing 18,990 fans per game.
• In 18 SEC games, junior All-SEC forward John Fulkerson led the Vols in scoring (15.1 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and field-goal percentage (.578). He also drew 112 fouls—or 6.2 per game.
• During SEC play, freshmen accounted for 39.6 percent of Tennessee’s total minutes played.
• SEC All-Defensive Teamer Yves Pons leads the SEC and ranks 24th nationally with 2.4 bpg. His 2.3 bpg during SEC play also led the league.
• Barring injury or illness, senior guard Jordan Bowden will finish his career in the top five on Tennessee’s list for career games played. Thursday will be the 133rd game in which he’s appeared—fifth-most in program history.
• Thursday will be Jordan Bowden’s 100th career start, making him the 14th Vol ever to reach that milestone.
SEC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
• Tennessee is 69-55 (.556) in 61 all-time previous SEC Tournament appearances.
• The Vols own the third-best SEC Tournament winning percentage among league schools, trailing only Kentucky (.838) and Alabama (.558).
• Since the tournament was renewed in 1979, the Vols are 34-40 (.459).
• Tennessee has won the SEC Tournament four times, tying Florida for third-most among league schools. The Vols won the event in 1936, 1941, 1943 and 1979.
• UT has reached the championship game 12 times (third-most among league schools), most recently last season in Nashville.
• Tennessee has been the No. 8 seed only twice previously (1986, 1987).
• This is the 11th time Nashville has hosted the SEC Tournament. UT is 13-10 in the tournament when it takes place in “The Music City.”
• Tennessee’s SEC Tournament record at Bridgestone Arena is 9-8.
BARNES IN LEAGUE TOURNEYS
• Rick Barnes is 37-31 (.544) in conference tournament games as a head coach. That includes a 6-4 record with Tennessee.
• He led Providence to the Big East Tournament championship in 1994.
• Barnes guided Tennessee to the SEC Tournament championship game each of the last two seasons.
MEMORABLE VOL PERFORMANCES IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
• Wayne Chism scored 23, JaJuan Smith added 19 and Tyler Smith put in 13, but it was Chris Lofton’s 25-footer with 12.0 seconds remaining that lifted the Vols to an 89-87 win over South Carolina in the 2008 SEC Tournament in Atlanta on March 14, 2008.
• Carlus Groves went 9-for-10 from the floor, scoring 22 points, to lift Tennessee to an 87-70 upset win over No. 18 Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the 1991 SEC Tournament in Nashville.
• It took Tony White 45 minutes to put 30 on Florida, including five points in overtime, as the Vols beat the Gators, 80-74, in the first round of the 1984 SEC Tournament in Nashville.
• Tennessee topped Kentucky, the third time UT beat the Wildcats that year, in the championship game of the 1979 SEC Tournament in Birmingham, Ala. The Vols prevailed 75-69 in overtime on March 3, 1979.
• Heading into the 2020 SEC Tournament, Alabama fell in its final two regular-season contests, dropping one at home to Vanderbilt, 87-79, and on the road at Missouri, 69-50. An up-and-down conference campaign has the Tide sitting at 16-15 overall and 8-10 in SEC play.
• First-year head coach Nate Oats looks to make a run in the SEC Tournament after guiding Buffalo to three consecutive MAC Championships prior to his arrival in Tuscaloosa last March.
• Sophomore point guard Kira Lewis Jr. has been incredibly efficient for the Tide. He leads Alabama in scoring (18.5 ppg), assists (5.2 apg) and field-goal percentage (.459) while ranking in the top 10 in the SEC in all three categories (4th in scoring, 3rd in assists and 9th in field-goal percentage). He has also been a force on the defensive end, leading the Tide and ranking third in the SEC in steals with 1.8 per contest.
• Lewis is joined in the backcourt by junior guard John Petty Jr. After missing the Tide’s contests against South Carolina (2/29/20) and Vanderbilt (3/3/20), he returned for their season finale and should be healthy for the conference tournament. He has been an all-around performer for Alabama this season, ranking third on the team in scoring (14.5 ppg), second in assists (2.5 apg) and first in rebounding (6.6 rpg).
• The oldest city in the state of Alabama is Mobile, which is located in the southwest corner of the state. Mobile was initially settled by French colonists in 1702 and was originally the capital of French Louisiana and didn’t become a part of the U.S. until 1813 when then-president James Madison annexed West Florida from Spain.
BARNES WAS A ‘BAMA ASSISTANT
• Rick Barnes spent the 1985-86 season as an assistant coach at Alabama under Wimp Sanderson. It was Barnes’ first taste of “major” college basketball.
• The Crimson Tide went 24-9 (13-5 SEC) that year and finished third in the conference. Bama earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Xavier and Illinois before falling to Southeast No. 1 seed Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.
• That Alabama team featured 15-year NBA veteran Derrick McKey, eventual Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried, five-year NBA veteran Jim Farmer and seven-year NBA veteran Buck Johnson (team’s top scorer).
• After Barnes’ lone season in Tuscaloosa, he moved on to Ohio State to work as an assistant coach under Gary Williams.
• As a head coach, Barnes is 7-7 against schools at which he once worked (he’s 2-3 vs. Alabama, 1-1 vs. Ohio State, 2-0 vs. Providence, 0-1 vs. Clemson, 2-2 vs. Tennessee).
THE INCREDIBLE (ALL-SEC) FULK
• Junior forward John Fulkerson earned All-SEC honors in his first year as a starter.
• He ranks second in the SEC and 11th nationally with a .616 overall field-goal percentage this season.
• He led the Vols during SEC play in scoring (15.1 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and field-goal percentage (.578).
• Fulkerson is averaging a team-best 1.67 points per shot overall this season. And he has drawn 57 fouls over UT’s last seven games (8.1 fdpg).
SEC’s BEST DEFENDER HAS TIED SINGLE-SEASON BLOCKS RECORD
• Yves Pons, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s leading shot-blocker, has blocked at least one shot in every game this season.
• His streak of 31 straight games with at least one block is the longest such streak by a Vol since at least the 1988-89 season (research is ongoing).
• Pons has blocked three or more shots in 15 games this season, including a program-record-tying six-block effort against Jacksonville State on Dec. 21.
• Pons has tied UT’s single-season blocks record of 73, first set by C.J. Black in 1997-98.