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Game Preview: Tennessee Volunteers

Kentucky travels south to Knoxville, Tennessee for a marquee top-25 matchup versus the number four ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Coming off a big Senior Night win vs. Vandy, Kentucky has won 4 in a row and is red-hot with postseason play right around the corner. A win like this would establish them as a true contender for the national championship if they can win in Knoxville.

Rick Barnes has his Vols in a perfect spot going into the postseason. They sit at 24-6 (14-3 in the SEC) with wins over Illinois, Alabama (2), and Auburn. They also have clinched the SEC regular season title as well as the number one-seed in the SEC Tournament as of today. Tennessee, they are playing for a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a win today would help them do just that. For Kentucky, a win today would put them likely in the two-seed in the SEC Tournament and would give them a double-bye instead of playing on Thursday. A loss would put the 'Cats in the fifth-seed and would force a Thursday game in the SEC Tournament for the fourth time in school history.

Tennessee is a two-way dominant team. Offensively, they average 80 points per game which is top-50 in the country. They are led by SEC POTY frontrunner Dalton Knecht. He averages 20.7 points per game and shoots 41% from three on the year. The 6'6 guard transfer from Northern Colorado has been a prayer answered for the Vols and a nightmare for opponents. Coming off a 26-point game in a win at South Carolina, slowing down Knecht will be the center point of Kentucky's defense this afternoon. When the Vols beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena, the 'Cats allowed Tennessee's second-tier players to beat us and that cannot be the case to happen again if Kentucky wants to walk out with the victory. Defensively, Tennessee only allows 67 points per game which is top-50 in the country as well. This Vols team is very physical and very experienced. Kentucky will need to match that physicality if they want to stay in the game.

Priority number one needs to be slowing down Knecht. If he gets going, it will be very difficult for Kentucky to keep up. Offensively, Kentucky needs to play mistake-free basketball. Limit the turnovers and shoot the ball. We also need to play physical and rebound. We have the talent to beat this team, we just cannot make stupid mistakes. Getting down early would be at the top of that list.

With how well Kentucky has been playing, we cannot afford a blowout-loss to end the year heading into the postseason. A loss also would cost seeding in the SEC Tournament. There is a lot on the line in this game. Just win.

The game will start at 4:00 PM on CBS. Let's go get some "roadkill."



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