Hoops Central: #22 Tennessee vs. #3 Kansas – Update Kansas

The 22nd-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team will compete for the Battle 4 Atlantis championship in the Bahamas on Friday, where they will face the defending national champion, the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks at approximately 7:30 pm ET.

Fans can watch Friday’s game on ESPN and online or on any mobile device via WatchESPN. WatchESPN is accessible through the ESPN app or online at espn.com/watch. Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analyst) will chime in.

Fans can also tune in live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Brian Rice and Bert Bertelkamp describe the action.

Tennessee (4-1) defeated USC in overtime Thursday in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals, 73-66. freshman Julian Phillips had a breakout performance for the Vols, scoring a season-high 25 points and grabbing a season-high eight rebounds, while Olivier Nkamhoua finished in double figures with 12 points and six rebounds.

Kansas (6-0) advanced to Friday’s championship game by defeating Wisconsin in overtime, 69-68. The Jayhawks defeated NC State 80-74 in their opener in the Bahamas on Wednesday.

Friday’s game marks the fourth time in the last five seasons that Tennessee has faced Kansas. The Jayhawks held a 2-1 lead in the last three games, but the Vols won the last game on January 30, 2021 in Knoxville 80-61.

After Friday’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship game, Tennessee will return to Knoxville for a three-game slate, starting with a meeting with McNeese State on Wednesday at 7:15 pm ET on the SEC Network. Tickets are available at AllVols.com.

SERIES

• Tennessee follows its historic streak with Kansas, 2-4, dating back to 2009. The programs have met three times during the Barnes era at Tennessee. Most recently, each team won back-to-back SEC/Big 12 Challenge games at home in 2020 and 2021.
• Tennessee’s first-ever victory over Kansas came on Jan. 10, 2010, when the Volunteers shocked the top-ranked and undefeated Jayhawks, 76-68, in Knoxville.
• A victory Friday would mark the Vols’ 22nd win over a ranked opponent during the Barnes era and their 10th top-10 triumph during that span.
• Including last month’s exhibition win over No. 2 Gonzaga, Tennessee is riding a five-game winning streak against AP top-10 opponents.
• Tennessee has eight AP top-five wins during the Barnes era.

SCOUTING REPORT

• Five-star freshman Julian Phillips was Tennessee’s best player this week, leading the Vols in both scoring (18.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). He exploded for 25 and 8 — both season highs — in Thursday’s win over USC.
• Tennessee’s senior wing and leading scorer Josiah-Jordan James is shooting an SEC-best .526 from 3-point range this season (10-of-19) but was inactive this week with left knee soreness.
• Less than a month ago, the Vols beat then-No. 2 Gonzaga in a neutral exhibition in Frisco, Texas with James inactive.
• According to KenPom, the Vols are second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing just 85.0 points per 100 possessions.
• The rims at Imperial Arena haven’t been kind to the Vols’ shooters this week, as Tennessee is shooting .242 from three-point range (8-for-33).
• Tennessee is forcing 21.5 turnovers per game this week and is converting those turnovers into 21.5 points per game.

LAYUP LINES

• Tennessee is chasing its first holiday tournament title since November 2010, when Scotty Hopson and current 76ers star Tobias Harris propelled the Vols to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship by defeating VCU and No. 7 Villanova at Madison Square Garden.
• The last time Tennessee played three games in three days, the Vols went a perfect 3-0 for the 2022 SEC Tournament championship in Tampa in March.
• Tennessee now owns a 6-2 all-time record through three Battle 4 Atlantis appearances (2013, 2017, 2022).
• Among Division I teams, only Virginia, Xavier and Utah State have a higher assist rate than Tennessee’s 69.0 percent this season.

ABOUT KANSAS

• Kansas (6-0) enters Friday’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship game against Tennessee after a 69-68 overtime win over Wisconsin on Thursday in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals.
• The third-ranked Jayhawks defeated NC State 80-74 in their Battle 4 Atlantis opener on Wednesday.
• Kansas coach Bill Self is in his 20th season as a head coach at KU and 30th overall. Self posted a 562-124 (.819) record at Kansas.
• Since last season, the defending national champion Jayhawks have won 17 straight games.
• Redshirt junior forward Jalen Wilson, who had 29 points and 14 rebounds in Kansas’ semifinal win over Wisconsin, is the Jayhawks’ leading scorer (24.3 ppg) and rebounder (10.3 rpg).
• Wilson was a starter on Kansas’ national championship team last season, averaging 11.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and was named a third-team All-Big 12 selection.
• Kansas was picked second in the Big 12 by league coaches during the preseason, while Wilson and redshirt senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. were named preseason All-Big 12 by league coaches.
• The Jayhawks’ second-leading scorer is freshman Gradey Dick—the 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year and 2022 McDonald’s All-American. Dick is averaging 16.8 ppg so far this season and has recorded two 20-point games.
• McCullar Jr., a transfer from Texas Tech, is averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in six games. McCullar Jr. had 18 points and nine rebounds against Wisconsin on Thursday. Had eight points and 10 rebounds in Texas Tech’s win over Tennessee last season in New York.

PHILLIPS, DICK MEET AS PREP HOOPERS THIS YEAR

• February 11, 2022 #1 National Christian Academy Sunrise (Kan). took a big step toward securing the top seed in the GEICO National Championships by defeating No. 3 Link Academy (Mo.), 74-65, at the Heartland Hoops Classic.
• This game featured current UT freshman Julian Phillips (Link Academy) and KU freshman Gradey Dick (Sunrise).
• Phillips and Dick later met in the 2022 McDonald’s All-American Game, in which Phillips scored nine points and Dick scored three. Current Jayhawks Earnest Udeh and MJ Rice also played in that game and were teammates with Phillips.
• Interesting, Vols assistant coach Rod Clark was an assistant at Sunrise Christian Academy, located in Bel Aire, Kansas, from 2017-19. And 2022 SEC Tournament MVP and NBA draft pick Kennedy Chandler attended Sunrise Christian shortly after Clark moved on to coach at the collegiate level.

VOLS FOLDED #2 ZAGS

• In a neutral-site charity exhibition on Oct. 28, Tennessee defeated preseason No. 2 Gonzaga, 99-80, in Frisco, Texas. And that was without the preseason All-SEC wing Josiah-Jordan Jameswho didn’t get dressed.
• Playing in a game environment in front of fans, first time in almost 20 months, gradual transfer Tyreke Key led the way with a game-high 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from deep.

LAST MEETING WITH KANSAS

• 53 percent shooting and a dominant rebounding performance propelled No. 18 Tennessee basketball past No. 15 Kansas, 80-61, on Jan. 30, 2021, at Thompson-Boling Arena. The win clinched the 2021 SEC/Big 12 Challenge for the SEC, 5-4.
• The Volunteers ripped down 38 rebounds, outrebounded the Jayhawks by 15 and held Kansas to zero second-chance points.
• Tennessee was also out of 3-point range (8-of-13) and the foul line (16-of-17).
• Naismith Defensive Player of the Year candidate Yves Pons dropped a team-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, draining both of his attempts from 3-point range and pulling down five rebounds to help ignite UT in several key moments. .
• John Fulkerson scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists.
• In his first start since returning from injury, Tennessee’s Jaden Springer had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Springer was also a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe.
• The Vols’ reliable stat stuffer, Josiah-Jordan Jamestotaling nine points while grabbing 11 rebounds, four assists and adding one block.
• Off the bench, junior Victor Bailey Jr. 11 points in the second half to help the Vols build a halftime lead. Bailey also finished the night with four assists, two rebounds and a steal.
• Tennessee dominated for long stretches of the opening 12 minutes of the night, using a 12-4 run over a five-minute stretch to take a 21-12 lead with less than eight minutes to play in the opening half.
• The Vols went on a run late in the half, extending their lead to as many as 16 before taking a 40-26 advantage into the break.
• It was more of the same in the second half as Tennessee stretched its lead to 21 in the first five minutes of the frame and knocked down six of nine field goal attempts.

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