Date: Saturday, 11/16/19
Tip-Off Time: 2:00 pm PT
TV: None (TSN4 if you happen to be in Canada but not going to the game live)
Radio: KOMO 1000
If you have a cable subscription and ESPN is part of that package you will not automatically be able to stream this game. You have to be a subscriber to ESPN+ in order to see the game. This service is combined with ESPN insider so signing up for it also gives you access to those articles on espn.com. It is currently $5 per month or $50 annually to sign up.
You can also combine it with the newly released Disney+ streaming service. A $12.99 monthly bundle comes with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. If you already are a subscriber to one of Hulu or ESPN+ then you can sign up for the bundle and as long as you’re using the same email address for each then they’ll deduct the price you’re already paying for the service out of the $12.99.
Yes, it sucks that this game isn’t on normal TV. Yes, it certainly seems like Disney is holding this game hostage to have the best game of the day on ESPN+ just after they launched Disney+ to force signups. A lot of other schools have their olympics sports shown on ESPN+ whereas we have them on Pac-12 networks which means this is one of the only times a UW event will be shown exclusively through this platform. Look at it as essentially a $5 pay per view event. Certainly not ideal but it could be worse.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Betting line: Washington +1
Tennessee Volunteers 2019-20 Statistics:
Points For per Game: 80.0 ppg (66th)
Points Against per Game: 63.0 ppg (77th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 (12th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 90.3 (44th)
Tennessee Key Players:
C- John Fulkerson, Jr. 6’9, 212: 9.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 80% FG, 60% FT
After 2 years of coming off the bench, Fulkerson is finally getting time to shine in the starting lineup. He’s a great rebounder particularly on the offensive end and a much better passer than your average big man. Fulkerson has struggled with turnovers at times and that could be a big issue for Tennessee with the Huskies’ tough front line.
F- Yves Pons, Jr. 6’6, 215: 17.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.5 bpg, 77.8% FG, 66.7% 3pt, 66.7% FT
The Frenchman has had flames shooting out of him over the first two games with absurd field goal percentages, block numbers, and offensive rebounding numbers so far. Right now those are outlier performances and at some point he’ll come down to earth a little bit. But Pons is more than capable of stretching the Husky zone to its breaking point even with some regression to the mean involved.
G- Josiah Jordan-James, Fr. 6’6, 208: 3.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 22.2% FG, 50.0% 3pt, 100% FT
Triple J was the 4th highest recruit in Tennessee history at the time he signed as a 5-star jumbo pure point guard. He has really struggled in the first two games of his college career with more turnovers than assists and fewer than 5 shot attempts per game. He’s too talented though to play like that the entire season and Washington just hopes it takes at least one more game before he catches up to the speed of the college game.
G- Jordan Bowden, Sr. 6’5, 193: 18.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 52% FG, 66.7% 3pt, 80% FT
Tennessee trailed Murray State by 11 points in the second half before Bowden caught fire and ended up shooting 6/8 from 3. He’s a 4 year major contributor and a career 37.1% 3-pt shooter with good size who takes care of the ball despite not being a distributor. While Pons has been equally hot shooting the ball so far you can bet Bowden is the number one guy on the scouting report for the Husky wings to keep track of in the zone.
G- Lamonte Turner, Sr. 6’2, 187: 11.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 10.0 apg, 31% FG, 18.2% 3pt, 28.6% FT
Another 4 year major contributor, Turner is now the captain of this team as the starting point guard who’s averaging a double double so far. He’s off to a very rough shooting start but is a career 35% 3pt shooter and 80% FT shooter so at some point he’ll turn the corner. Expect Turner to end up as one of the best point guards in the country and among the national leaders in assists.
2019-20 Tennessee Shot Chart
Fewer that 15% of Tennessee’s 3-pt attempts this season have come from the corner so you can expect most of those looks will come from the wings trying to shoot over the front of Washington’s zone. They’ve been willing to take plenty of midrange jumpers so far this season and one of the keys to the game will be if they continue to do so when Washington is forcing them into it and whether they’ll make them at a higher rate than the 33% they are so far. The more midrange 2’s Tennessee takes the better Washington is doing even if they start out hitting those looks.
It’s unlikely that either teams’ respective fan base feels overly comfortable coming into this one. Washington overcame sluggish first halves in both of their games to eek out a pair of wins but the offense has looked ugly at times. Meanwhile Tennessee trailed Murray State, which lost #2 overall NBA draft pick Ja Morant, by double digits in the second half before a barrage of 3’s sparked a 16-0 run for Tennessee in the final minutes. Now both squads are hoping for a signature victory to spark an NCAA tournament berth.
Another similarity between Tennessee and Washington is that they lost a ton of talent off last year’s teams. The Huskies lost 5 of their top 6 rotation players while the Volunteers are missing their top 3 and 4 of their top 6. There’s still plenty of quality depth though for Tennessee which returns a pair of senior guards who have played at least 20 minutes per game in all 4 of their seasons in Knoxville.
It will be a battle of strengths in many ways as the Tennessee offense with their veteran backcourt goes up against this incredibly staunch Washington defense. The Volunteers are currently shooting a scorching 46.2% from 3-pt range, are assisting on nearly two-thirds of their scores, and are a top-40 offensive rebounding team. Those are all areas where Washington has the potential to struggle if their zone defense isn’t fully locked in at all times.
It’s by no means a hulking Tennessee lineup but they have good size at the guard and wing spots which should allow them to get off shots against Washington. With the way Tennessee has shot the ball there hasn’t been a ton of driving and therefore they’ve both taken very few free throws and are shooting just 60% when they do get to the line. The Huskies need to force the Volunteers into a jump shooting team while hopefully contesting those shots better than either UNC Asheville or Murray State did.
Long shots mean long rebounds though and while offensive rebounding is always a concern when playing zone defense it’s even more of one against Tennessee. Right now the primary two centers for the Vols both have offensive rebounding rates that would be in the top-5 nationally if they kept up over the entire season. Obviously, neither of Tennessee’s first two opponents had a front line with the size and ability of Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, and Hameir Wright but it’s worth monitoring.
So far this season Tennessee has been content to funnel opponents to the rim where they’ve been above average at contesting and blocking shots. With Washington’s offense revolving around Isaiah Stewart’s post-up abilities it will be interesting to see if this is still the case or if they pack the paint and dare the Huskies to shoot over them. None of Tennessee’s primary rotation players weigh more than 225 pounds so if the Vols try to simply match-up then there’s a good chance Stewart will have his way down low. And if they double him then Quade Green and Jamal Bey will need to start knocking down some long range shots to improve the spacing.
Getting the season opening win against Baylor takes some of the pressure off Washington in this one. They’ve got proof for the coaches to point to that they can go up against a premium opponent away from Seattle and come out on top. Securing this victory would give the Huskies arguably the best pair of wins in the entire country so far and would make it realistic for fans to start dreaming about a top-4 seed and an opening round NCAA weekend in Spokane. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I think this Tennessee team is a slightly worse version of what the Huskies went up against in Baylor but Washington was also a little lucky to come out of that game on top. And this time the Huskies are the ones changing multiple time zones and traveling an extra 1,800 miles. I’m going to say we get another photo finish but this time the Dawgs come up just short.
Washington Huskies- 63, Tennessee Volunteers- 65
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