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Tennessee didn't get much time to celebrate the first No. 1 ranking in school history before facing its first big challenge from that position.
Following a thrilling weekend victory, the top-ranked Volunteers visit No. 18 Vanderbilt on Tuesday night in an SEC matchup.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Tennessee -2 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Tennessee -2 (View College Basketball bet percentages).
Tennessee (25-2, 11-1) heads into Memorial Gym one day after taking over the top spot in the AP poll. The Volunteers claimed the top spot after Saturday's 66-62 road win over then-No. 1 - and unbeaten - Memphis.
"Being top-rated in the polls isn't something we anticipated. But Saturday night was a special night of basketball in the state of Tennessee," Vols coach Bruce Pearl said. "Two great teams played very hard, and it was a shame either had to lose."
It was Tennessee's first win over a top-ranked opponent since 1969, and came despite a quiet night from top scorers Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith. Lofton, who leads the Volunteers with 15.1 points per game, was held to just seven points while shooting 2-for-11 from the field. Smith, who is averaging 14.1 points, managed only nine but added 10 rebounds.
Smith's biggest points came late, as he hit a turnaround jumper with 26.5 seconds left to give Tennessee a 62-61 lead it would not relinquish.
The Volunteers' schedule isn't getting much easier. After visiting the Commodores (23-4, 8-4), Tennessee hosts Kentucky on Sunday. The Wildcats are two games behind Tennessee in the SEC East.
The Volunteers defeated Vanderbilt 80-60 at home on Jan. 17, but Pearl doesn't expect another easy win Tuesday.
"I'm not concerned with the ranking other than it makes the prize even bigger for Vanderbilt or any other team that will play us," he said. "To have the opportunity to beat the number one team in the country is an opportunity that is not extended very often. I know it was a big factor for us in our preparation for Memphis. There was almost an air of 'everything to gain and nothing to lose (mentality).'"
Tennessee has lost three of its last four visits to Vanderbilt, although the last seven meetings there have all been decided by fewer than 10 points. Three of the last four have been decided by five or fewer.
"Of course, we know we're going to get everybody's best shot," Volunteers guard Raymar Smith said. "We've got to take it and deliver and step up. That's really what it's all about right now."
Vanderbilt has won six straight, including an 86-74 win at home over Georgia on Saturday. The Commodores have also won 17 straight home games and 30 of their last 31.
Shan Foster is coming off one of his best games of the season. The senior forward had 29 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Bulldogs.
Foster is second in the SEC in scoring with 19.3 points per game and is the conference's leading 3-point shooter at 44.9 percent.
Vanderbilt shot 50.8 percent from the field Saturday, including a 12-for-26 effort from 3-point range. The Commodores trailed by one at the half, but shot 63 percent from the field in the second half to pull away.
Although the success of Tennessee and Memphis has left Vanderbilt out of the national spotlight, Commodores coach Kevin Stallings doesn't appear bothered.
"I think you get what you deserve," said Stallings, whose team is two wins shy of matching the school's regular-season best, set in 1992-93. "I think we've gotten our share of acknowledgment, notoriety and attention. ... Tennessee and Memphis have had great years. They're getting what they deserve. I don't feel we're slighted in the least."
The Commodores are 6-13 all-time against No. 1 teams.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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