GAME NOTES: The Tennessee Volunteers will continue their season-long four-game homestand on Monday night when they welcome the Morehead State Eagles to Thompson-Boling Arena for a non-conference clash.
Morehead State had lost three out of four heading into its latest contest, but it got back in the win column in a big way at home on Thursday night with a 120-83 victory over South Dakota. The Eagles are now 8-5 on the season, which includes a respectable 3-3 record on the road.
Tennessee meanwhile, has disappointed of late, as it has dropped back-to-back games at Wichita State (70-61) and most recently at home versus NC State on Wednesday (65-58) to dip to 6-4. The Vols hope they can put their latest loss behind them and get back to their success at Thompson-Boling Arena, where they have won four of five.
The Vols have defeated the Eagles in all three previous meetings, most recently during the 1996-97 season (85-63).
The Eagles experienced an offensive explosion in their most recent 37-point victory, shooting 55 percent from the field, including an incredible 17-of-32 from 3-point range en route to 120 points, their third-highest scoring output against a Division I opponent in program history. Drew Kelly was the pace setter, shooting 8-of-12 from beyond the arc en route to a career-high 40 points to go with 12 rebounds. Chad Posthumus also tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Brett Arrington netted 19 points, Angelo Warner posted 16 points and nine assists, Luka Pajkovic added 11 points and Billy Reader scored 10. Kareem Storey found the open man all night, tying a school record with 16 assists.
The outburst certainly helped Morehead State's year-to-date stats, as it scores 79.1 points per game for a +6.0 scoring margin. Warner (17.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.6 apg) is the top offensive threat, while Posthumus (11.0 ppg) ranks second in the nation in rebounding with 12.4 per game. Arrington (11.8 ppg) and Bakari Turner (10.4 ppg) are also solid, while Storey dishes out 6.8 assists per contest.
The Vols fell behind NC State by 17 at the half of their latest game and could never recover from there, as they shot a miserable 29.4 percent from the field in the seven-point setback. Jordan McRae was the top scorer with 21 points, although he arguably hurt his team more than he helped by shooting just 6- of-22 from the field. Jeronne Maymon was a beast in the paint with 17 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks, while Jarnell Stokes (10 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks) also tallied a double-double. The five other players to see action combined to score just 10 points.
It was an atypical performance for Tennessee, which shoots 43.1 percent from the field for 73.0 points per game, 8.3 points more than it allows. It helps its cause greatly by owning a +7.4 rebounding margin as well as by committing just 9.2 turnovers per game. McRae (19.7 ppg) is one of the SEC's most prolific scorers, and he also contributes a block and a steal per game on the defensive end of the floor. Stokes (13.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and Maymon (10.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg) make up an intimidating duo in the frontcourt.
Morehead State clearly has the hot hand coming into this one, but it'll be hard pressed to keep its scoring success alive in hostile territory against a strong defensive squad. Expect the Vols to get back to their winning ways.
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