Tennessee’s Yves Pons (35) dunks the ball against Arkansas’ Vance Jackson Jr. (2) during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Saul Young/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool)
- Tennessee is a 2.5-point home favorite over Kansas on Saturday night in Knoxville
- Kansas ended a three-game losing streak, its longest since 1989, by beating TCU on Thursday
- The odds, lines and spread for Kansas-Tennessee can be found below along with analysis
Two teams looking to restore some lost luster to their seasons meet when Kansas visits Tennessee as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at 6pm ET Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
Kansas (11-5) is ranked #15 after rising as high as #3 earlier in the season. Tennessee (11-3) reached a high-water mark of #6 but is now #18.
The Volunteers are home favorites in this game.
Kansas vs Tennessee Odds
|Kansas||+128||+2.5 (-106)||Over 130.5 (-110)|
|Tennessee||-152||-2.5 (-114)||Under 130.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 29 from FanDuel
Both teams ended losing streaks earlier this week with wins at home. Kansas stopped a three-game skid, 59-51 over TCU on Thursday as a 14-point favorite, while Tennessee ended a two-game slide, 56-53 over Mississippi State on Tuesday as a 9.5-point choice.
Kansas Wins Ugly
Kansas might have gotten back in the win column against TCU, but it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing.
The Jayhawks led just 19-18 at halftime. They also shot 23.5% (4-of-17) on 3-pointers and 56.3% (9-of-16) at the free throw line.
The offensive highlight was David McCormack’s first 3-point field goal of the season, which came on his first attempt. It was also the first trey of the 6-foot-10 junior forward’s career.
Yes this is David McCormack hitting a clutch 3 to beat the shot clock pic.twitter.com/mfomO7D4tE
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) January 29, 2021
McCormack led Kansas with 15 points and junior guard Ochai Agbaji added 13.
Starters Christian Braun, Marcus Garrett and Jalen Wilson combined to go 4-for-16 from the field. Kansas shot 41% and had 15 turnovers.
The Jayhawks defense saved the day, though. TCU had 22 turnovers and shot just 35%.
No quit in our game…
Made it happen in AFH last night 💪
• 🎥 𝗥𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 #𝟭𝟱 𝗞𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗮𝘀 𝘃𝘀 𝗧𝗖𝗨 • pic.twitter.com/WHA50hh8hu
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) January 29, 2021
Agbaji leads Kansas in scoring at 14.4 points a game. Wilson is averaging 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.
The offense has been running through McCormack, though, as he has accounted for 29.3% of Kansas’ possessions and 30.5% of their shots. He is averaging 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Tennessee Wins Ugly, Too
Tennessee’s win over Mississippi State was not a work of art either, but defense also carried the day for the Volunteers.
Mississippi State shot just 37% from the field and a sickly 16% on 3-point tries. The Bulldogs made 33% of their shots in the second half and managed just three field goals in the last 12 minutes.
Even the Volunteers’ Twitter account knew it wasn’t pretty
Tennessee did not seal the victory, though, until sophomore guard Santiago Vesconi made two free throws with 12 seconds left.
better than the alternative pic.twitter.com/y9Sydt8JSl
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 27, 2021
Senior wing Yves Pons led Tennessee with 13 points after scoring a season-high 20 in the Volunteers’ previous game, a loss to Missouri. Tennessee has needed the recent offensive punch from Pons, who is averaging 9.8 points a game, because leading scorer John Fulkerson is struggling.
Fulkerson, a senior forward, had just four points and four rebounds against Mississippi State. That followed a seven-point outing versus Missouri.
Fulkerson’s 11.2 scoring average still the leads the team. The only other Tennessee player averaging double figures is junior guard Victor Bailey at 10.9, but he missed all five field goals attempts Tuesday and finished with just two points.
Highly touted freshman guard Jaden Springer returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. He had nine points, five assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.
Tough twos 💪
→ @jadenspringer11 pic.twitter.com/MpP95i8kig
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 28, 2021
The teams also faced each other in last year’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge with Kansas winning at home 74-68, though it failed to cover the 13-point spread.
Agbaji had 16 points for Kansas. Pons scored a career-high 24 points in a losing effort while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots and Fulkerson had a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards.
This year’s matchup features Kansas’ offense, averaging 74.3 points a game, against Tennessee’s defense, allowing 59.3 points a game. The Jayhawks are just a tad better than the Volunteers and should prevail for the second season in a row.
Pick: Kansas +2.5 (-106)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.