BATON ROUGE, La. – The 16th-ranked Tennessee basketball team hits the road for a third time in four games when it travels south to take on LSU on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff from the Pete Maravich Center is set for 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Fans can catch Saturday’s action on ESPN and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Karl Ravech and Jimmy Dykes 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, Tennessee took down SEC-foe Georgia, 89-81 on Wedneasday night. The Vols were led by an explosive 30-point performance from freshman Jaden Springer.
Freshman Keon Johnson finished the night with 11 points and stole the show with a Sportcenter-worthy dunk to spark UT in the second half
A victory on Saturday would snap the Vols two-game losing streak in Baton Rouge and preserve their winning record on the road.
Up next, the Orange & White return home for a mid-week encounter with South Carolina. Tuesday’s opening tip from Thompson-Boling Arena is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
• Tennessee leads the all-time series with LSU, 65-48, dating to 1933.
• The series is tied, 26-26, when contested in Baton Rouge. The Vols had won five straight at the PMAC before falling in each of its last two visits.
• Last year’s LSU game in Knoxville was Santiago Vescovi’s college debut, and he made a splash with six 3-pointers.
• Fourth-year LSU head coach Will Wade is a Nashville native and graduate of Franklin Road Academy.
• Wade got his footing in the collegiate coaching ranks as a student manager at Clemson under former Rick Barnes assistant Larry Shyatt.
A WIN WOULD…
• Snap Tennessee’s two-game losing streak in Baton Rouge.
• Preserve UT’s winning record on the road this season.
• Tennessee is No. 11 in the latest NCAA NET ratings, with four wins over teams in the top 35.
• Five-star freshmen Jaden Springer (26.5 ppg) Keon Johnson (19.0 ppg) have combined to average 45.5 points over Tennessee’s last two games—both wins. Johnson is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week.
• Over the last four games, sophomore Josiah-Jordan James is averaging 11.8 points, a team-best 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists while also shooting .455 (10-22) from 3-point range.
• Senior Yves Pons is a top-10 finalist for the Julius Erving Award and one of 15 candidates for Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year. Pons missed Wednesday’s game against Georgia with a right knee injury.
• In 111 seasons of varsity basketball, Tennessee has had only one letterman from the state of Louisiana: forward Maurice Robertson (New Orleans) in 1996.
• Tennessee ranks 10th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 60.8 points per game.
• According to KenPom, the Vols ranks second in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 86.6 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.
• The Vols are forcing 16.1 turnovers per game while converting those turnovers into 17.4 points per game. Tennessee’s turnover margin stands at +4.2 (12th nationally).
• Tennessee has forced 14 of 18 opponents to turn the ball over on 20 percent or more of their possessions.
• Tennessee has allowed only three opposing player to score 20 points all season. See Page 3.
• Each of Tennessee’s last five opponents have shot 26 percent or worse from 3-point range.
• As the 2020-21 season reaches its latter stages, the LSU Tigers are 12-6 overall and, like Tennessee, are 7-4 in the SEC entering Saturday’s contest. LSU has gotten a majority of its scoring production from its starting five, with four of its primary starters averaging more than 12 points per game. LSU’s fifth-leading scorer, Mwani Wilkinson, is averaging just 4.4 points per game.
• Through 18 games, the Tigers have been led by freshman standout Cam Thomas. Thomas’ 22.4 points per game leads the SEC. He has poured in 20-plus points 13 times and recorded a season-high 32 points in his first career SEC contest, when LSU took down Texas A&M, 77-54, on Dec. 29.
• In the frontcourt, forward Trendon Watford has been LSU’s stat-sheet stuffer, ranking second on the team in points (16.6 ppg), rebounds (6.9 rpg), assists (3.4 apg) and steals (1.3 spg). In the SEC, his numbers for scoring, rebounds and helpers rank sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively, making Watford one of the league’s most versatile and consistent players.
• Junior Javonte Smart has also had a knack for scoring this season, ranking third on the team and eighth in the SEC with 15.8 points per game. He also ranks fifth in the league in field-goal percentage and first in 3-point percentage, converting on 49 percent of his total attempts and 45 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point arc. Outside of getting his, Smart is also dishing out a team-leading 4.2 assists per game, which ranks fourth in the league.
• Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the site of the only battle during the American Revolution that took place outside of the original 13 British colonies.
LAST MEETING WITH LSU
• Despite 18 points from Yves Pons and an impressive debut from freshman point guard Santiago Vescovi, Tennessee fell to LSU, 78-64, in its conference opener on Jan. 4, 2020, at Thompson-Boling Arena.
• After arriving in the United States and joining the team just seven days prior (Dec. 28), Vescovi started and scored 18 points on six 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Pons also had 18 points, one shy of his then-career-high.
• Josiah-Jordan James had a career-high 15 points.
• Tennessee made a season-high 13 3-pointers.
• LSU took a one-point lead into halftime and controlled the game out of the gates in the second half. The Tigers scored 21 points in the first eight minutes of the half to Tennessee’s 12, extending their lead to 59-49.
• Tennessee cut that lead to seven points, but never drew any closer the rest of the way. A trio of scorers—Javonte Smart (21), Skylar Mays (17) and Trendon Watford (15)—paced LSU in its win.
• After trailing for the majority of the opening 20 minutes, LSU regained the lead just before halftime and took a 38-37 advantage into the break.
• To start the game, the Tigers claimed a quick 7-2 lead, but Tennessee responded with a 18-4 run that put the Vols in front by nine. After making the start at point guard, Vescovi drained his first two shots—both from beyond the arc. John Fulkerson, making his first career SEC start, had two fast-break alley-oop dunks, while James had eight points during the run.
• In the first half as a whole, Tennessee shot 9-for-13 from 3-point range.
• James and Pons both reached double-figure scoring in the first half for the Vols with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Vescovi chipped in nine points behind three made 3-pointers. Jordan Bowden dished out six assists, all in the first 12 minutes of action.
MEMORABLE VOL PERFORMANCES AGAINST LSU
• Knoxville native Doug Roth blocked a school-record six shots vs. LSU on Jan. 11, 1989, lifting UT to a 100-96 win over the Tigers in Knoxville.
• Anthony Richardson went 14-for-14 from the free-throw line, the best charity-stripe performance in school history, at LSU on Jan. 12, 1985. But the Vols fell that day by a score of 75-65.
• Ron Widby set UT’s single-game scoring record, which stood for 20 years, against LSU on March 4, 1967, scoring 50 points on 19-of-39 shooting (both also single-game records) and 12-of-14 from the charity strip. UT won 87-60 in Knoxville.
LOUISIANA LETTERMEN RARE
• In 109 seasons of varsity basketball, Tennessee has had only one letterman from the state of Louisiana: forward Maurice Robertson (New Orleans) in 1996.
SPRINGER DROPS 30 ON GEORGIA
• Freshman guard Jaden Springer scored a season-high 30 points during Tennessee’s home win over Georgia on Feb. 10. That stands as the highest scoring output by a Vol this season.
• Springer became only the third Tennessee freshman to score 30 or more points in a game since 2005 and the first to do so since current Celtics forward Grant Williams scored 30 (also against Georgia) on Feb. 11, 2017.
• Dating to the start of the 2017-18 season, Tennessee has won more than half of its true road games during SEC play, going 18-14 (.563).
• This season, the Vols have road wins at Missouri, Texas A&M and Kentucky.
SEC SCORING MARGIN IS NARROW
• If you exclude first-place Alabama, which is an extreme outlier (+13.6 ppg), only 1.5 points per game separate the next five SEC teams in scoring margin during league play. Tennessee ranks second.