Tennessee basketball vs Missouri: Score prediction, scouting report

Tennessee basketball vs Missouri: Score prediction, scouting report

Tennessee basketball is trying to rebound after a pair of losses in its past three games.

The No. 5 Vols (19-5, 8-3 SEC) host Missouri (18-6, 6-5) on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, SEC Network) at Thompson-Boling Arena. Here is what to know about the matchup:

Can Tennessee get back on track?

Tennessee seemingly hit a high point this season with its 82-71 win against Texas on Jan. 28. It followed with three clunkers, losing 67-54 at Florida, beating Auburn 46-43, and losing 56-55 at Vanderbilt.

“We’re a big win for a lot of teams,” Barnes said. “I’ve said it all year long. It’s about continuing to get better and that doesn’t mean just as a team. It also means individual guys.”

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Tennessee has four straight games against some of the SEC’s better teams. UT plays Alabama on Wednesday and is at Kentucky on Feb. 18 before playing at Texas A&M on Feb. 21.

“I’ll be just really disappointed if we don’t handle it,” Barnes said. “I just think we have a group of guys that care about each other, that want to win.”

Tennessee bracing for fast-paced Missouri under Dennis Gates

Missouri overhauled its playing style entirely and much of its roster under first-year coach Dennis Gates, who was hired from Cleveland State after Missouri fired former UT coach Cuonzo Martin.

The Tigers rank No. 9 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency after ranking No. 153 last season. They are averaging 82 points per game, which ranks second in the SEC.

“What he did do, he put together an older team, guys that played basketball for a while,” Barnes said. “I think there’s no doubt his system is to be aggressive both ways, play at a very high tempo.”

Said UT forward Tobe Awaka: “I think it just being ready for a track race.”

Josiah-Jordan James is day to day with ankle injury

Josiah-Jordan James suffered an ankle injury in the final minute of Tennessee’s loss at Vanderbilt. He is day to day with a sprained ankle. Barnes said James had a boot on Thursday.

James missed eight of the first 13 games this season while dealing with knee soreness stemming from an offseason knee procedure.

Tennessee basketball score prediction vs. Missouri

Missouri 73, Tennessee 71: It’s impossible to know which Vols team will show up presently. But this is clear: Missouri is a brutal matchup for a struggling Tennessee team, bringing a fast-paced attack that seeks to get in transition and score quickly.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.