@GTMBK Non-Conference Preview -- Tennessee

Sept. 1, 2015

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THE FLATS – Each week up until the beginning of basketball season, Ramblinwreck.com takes a look at an opponent on Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule. This week, we look at Tennessee, Tech’s game 2 opponent, the 70th meeting between the two teams in basketball. This year’s contest will be part of ESPN’s Tipoff Marathon and will be televised on ESPNU.

Date: November 16, 2015
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Conference: SEC
Home arena: Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678)
2014-15 Record: 16-16 overall, 7-11 in the SEC (10th place), 96th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: SEC Tournament Second Round, lost to Arkansas 80-72
NCAA Championship Appearances: 20 (last in 2014)
All-time series record: Tennessee leads 42-27 (First meeting 2/19/1921)
Head coach: Rick Barnes (entering 1st season, 0-0)
Starters returning/lost: 3/2
Top scorers returning: Armani Moore, F, Sr., and Kevin Punter, G, Sr. (10.3)
Top rebounder returning: Armani Moore, F, Sr. (6.8)

Quick preview for 2015-16

Rick Barnes is entering his first season as Tennessee’s head basketball coach. Barnes coached at Texas for 17 seasons, won over 400 games, and led the Longhorns to 16 NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four. Last season, Tennessee finished with a .500 record and 10th in the SEC under then head coach Donnie Tyndall. Picked to finish 13th in the SEC, last year’s team was young and inexperienced yet still overachieved. With Rick Barnes at the helm in 2015-2016, Tennessee will look to senior forward Armani Moore as well as senior guard Kevin Punter. Moore led the team in rebounding and blocks last season. He grabbed a total of 216 rebounds, averaged 6.8 rebounds per game, and blocked 39 shots on the year. Punter, who played the most minutes of any returning starter, was second on the team in assists behind graduated senior Josh Richardson. Averaging 10.3 points per game, both Moore and Punter are the leading returning scorers. At 6-5, Moore will need some additional help on the glass. The Volunteers will also need to find consistent scorers from an unproven lineup with six underclassmen.

Quick recap of 2014-15

Just past the halfway point of last year, Tennessee had a record of 12-5 after beating South Carolina 66-62 in Columbia. However, the Volunteers won just three of their last 13 games to finish the regular season. The Vols concluded the 2014-15 season losing six of their last seven games and were knocked out of the SEC Tournament in the second round with an 80-72 loss to Arkansas. As a team, Tennessee struggled to score the basketball, ranking 12th in the SEC in total scoring at 63.3 points per game. Of the bright spots in 2014-15, Tennessee’s defense had a knack for forcing turnovers and creating steals. The Vols were second only to Arkansas in steals, forcing almost eight per game. However, Tennessee’s lack of scoring on the offensive end proved too significant to overcome.

Greatest program accomplishment

2008 SEC Championship and six straight NCAA Tournament Appearances from 2006-11 — Tennessee basketball began in 1908, became a member of the SEC in 1933, and has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 20 times. Tennessee’s first NCAA Tournament appearance was in 1967. The Volunteers made it to the tournament five times in a row from 1979-83, and six consecutive times from 2006-11. In the 2013-14 season, Tennessee won eight of its final 10 games and made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in eight seasons. In 2008-09, the Vols celebrated their 100th year of basketball and made it to the tournament for the fourth consecutive year under head coach Bruce Pearl. The following season, Tennessee came from behind to defeat Ohio State 76-73 in the Sweet Sixteen. Losing only one game at home, the 2009-10 Volunteers became the first Tennessee team to make it to the Elite Eight. The Vols then had a heartbreaking 70-69 loss to Michigan State to end their 2010 tournament run.

Greatest player in program history

Allan Houston (1989-1993) — Allan Houston, a Louisville native, is Tennessee’s all-time leading scorer with 2,801 total points. He ranks second in scoring in SEC history only to Pete Maravich and is 13th on the all-time NCAA scoring list. Houston finished his career as the SEC’s all-time leading three-point shooter with 346 treys. Averaging 22.3 points per game as a senior, he captured the SEC scoring title in 1993. Houston was named MVP of the 1991 SEC Tournament and was one of only two players in Tennessee basketball history to be a first-team All-SEC selection all four years. After college, Houston was drafted 11th overall by the Detroit Pistons. He went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA, three for the Pistons and nine for the Knicks. The 6-6 shooting guard scored 14,551 points (17.3 points per game) and grabbed nearly 2,500 rebounds during his NBA career. In the 1995-96 season, he helped lead the Pistons to the playoffs and was a big reason why the Knicks made the playoffs five years in a row from 1996-01. Houston averaged 19.3 points per game in the playoffs, and helped carry the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999.

Place to visit on campus or in the city

Market Square, Knoxville — Named “the most democratic place on earth” by a local newspaper, Market Square was established in 1854 as a market place for regional farmers. Over many years, the square has evolved into a multipurpose pedestrian mall, providing a venue for events such as concerts and political rallies. The square has long served as a gathering place for activists, street performers, war veterans, and artists. In addition, it has also hosted famous performers Duke Ellington and Steve Winwood. Politicians and other activists who have given speeches at the Square include Booker T. Washington, Ronald Reagan, and William Jennings Bryan. Today, the Market Square is used year-round as a place for special outdoor events such as a seasonal farmer’s market, the “Sundown in the City” concert series, and community band concerts. The Square also has a wide variety of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars for tourists and locals alike.

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