KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee basketball team plays host to Arkansas on Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena (8 p.m. ET, SEC TV), and the Razorbacks pride themselves on an up-tempo and aggressive style of play.
The Volunteers (11-6, 2-2 SEC) met with the media prior to Tuesday’s practice and spoke about the things Arkansas (12-5, 1-3 SEC) does to disrupt their opponents’ rhythm.
“They hurry teams up on offense by their pressure on defense and get them out of their offensive flow,” Vols point guard Antonio Barton said.
“I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re going to come in look to do.”
Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes told reporters that the UT scouting report calls for a disciplined approach to facing the quick and athletic Hogs.
“This is (a game) where you have to be smart about how you run,” Stokes said. “If we try to speed up the pace against Arkansas, we’re playing into their hands. But we’re playing the game on our floor, so that will help us out a lot in getting out some of the jitters, being comfortable and limiting some of the turnovers.”
Barton echoed those sentiments.
“That’s going to make a huge difference in this game,” Barton said. “You have to take care of the ball. We like to run, too. But we can’t turn the ball over when we get out and run. It’s going to be a real fast-paced game. But it’s going to come down to the little things – defending, taking care of the ball and just getting stops.”
VOLS, HOGS POLAR OPPOSITES IN REBOUNDING, TURNOVER MARGIN
In the current Southeastern Conference team statistics, Tennessee and Arkansas are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to rebounding margin and turnover margin in league games.
The Vols boast the best rebounding defense in the SEC during conference play, out-rebounding the opposition by 12.5 rebounds per game. The Hogs, meanwhile, have struggled on the glass and rank last in the league with a -10.8 rebounding margin in their four SEC outings.
The tables are turned for turnover margin, though.
In SEC action, Arkansas’ +5.0 turnover margin tops the conference. In its first four league games, Tennessee has a -5.5 turnover margin, which ranks 14thin the conference.
The Vols have placed an emphasis on limiting turnovers in recent weeks. Entering league play, UT averaged fewer than 10.0 turnovers per game and ranked in the top 10 nationally for fewest turnovers per game.
SCOUTING THE RAZORBACKS
Tennessee leads its all-time series with Arkansas 17-14, dating to 1936. In 11 previous trips to Knoxville, the Razorbacks have posted just two wins over the Vols (1992, 2006).
In their last three outings, the Razorbacks have played three consecutive overtime games for the first time in program history. While they came out on the losing end against Florida and Georgia, they were victorious against Kentucky.
In pre-conference action, the Hogs posted wins over Clemson and Minnesota.
Arkansas ranks 14th nationally in scoring (83.3 ppg) and is led offensively by sophomore guard Michael Qualls (12.4 ppg) and freshman forward Bobby Portis (12.1 ppg).
In SEC play, junior guard Rashad Madden averages 16.3 ppg and also leads the Razorbacks in 3-point shooting, making 46 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
As a visiting coach (head/assistant), third-year Hogs head man Mike Anderson is 1-6 at Thompson-Boling Arena. He spent 17 years on Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas staff from 1985-2002.
STOKES AMONG RARE QUARTET
Stokes has an SEC-leading nine double-doubles this season, and since league play began, he is averaging a double-double against conference foes (13.8 ppg, 12.3 rpg).
Among the seven “major” Division I conferences – ACC, American, Big East, Big 10, Big XII, Pac-12, SEC – only three other players in America are currently averaging a double-double in league games.
In addition to Stokes, those players are Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman (16.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg), Pitt’s Talib Zanna (15.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and Cal’s Richard Solomon (14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg).
Last season, Stokes completed SEC play with a double-double average, and though seven weeks still remain in regular-season conference play, he is on pace to do so once again.
His 27 career double-doubles rank tied for eighth (with Len Kosmalski, 1971-74) on UT’s all-time list.
SATURDAY’S FLORIDA GAME TELEVISED ON ESPN
Tennessee’s game at No. 6 Florida this Saturday, Jan. 25, will be televised on ESPN.
The initial network designation had been either ESPN or ESPN2, but it was recently announced that the game will air on the “Worldwide Leader’s” flagship.
Tipoff in Gainesville is set for 4:02 p.m. ET.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)