KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball team begins its 107th season on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena against the Chattanooga Mocs.
Vols coach Rick Barnes enters his second season with the program, and has led his teams to 14 consecutive wins in season-opening games. Mocs coach Matt McCall, who previously worked as an assistant coach on Billy Donovan’s staff at Florida from 2011-2015, is also in his second year with his program.
The Vols finished with a 15-19 record (6-12 SEC) last season. Gone are leading scorers Kevin Punter Jr. and Armani Moore, who both graduated.
Senior guard Robert Hubbs III returns for Tennessee. He averaged 10.6 points on 45.2 percent shooting last season, despite shooting a 23.9 percent clip from three-point range last season. Hubbs also averaged 3.9 rebounds per game.
Tennessee also returns junior guard Detrick Mostella (8.4 points, 1.2 assists) and sophomore forward Admiral Schofield (7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds).
The Vols have 13 players who are either freshman or sophomores, including eight new players. Tennessee’s roster features only three upper classmen:
1. Redshirt senior forward Lew Evans
2. Senior guard Robert Hubbs III
Like last season, this season’s Vols team only has three players listed at 6’7” or taller:
1. Evans: 6’7”
2. Sophomore forward Kyle Alexander: 6’10”
3. Freshman forward John Fulkerson: 6’7”
Meanwhile, the Mocs made it to the NCAA Tournament last season with a 29-6 record (15-3 Southern Conference). Indiana ended Chattanooga’s season with a 99-74 win in the first round of the tournament. Chattanooga’s 29 wins were the most in program history.
The Mocs return four starters from last season’s team, including the Southern Conference’s preseason player of the year Tre’ McLean. The senior forward averaged 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds last season.
McLean is joined by fellow seniors Justin Tuoyo (11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) and Greg Pryor (9.8 points, 3.5 assists).
Senior forward Chuck Ester is out indefinitely with a knee injury after starting the last 27 games for Casey Jones, who saw his 2015-2016 season cut short due to an ankle injury in December 2015. Jones received a medical redshirt, and is set to be back on the court for Chattanooga.
Tennessee holds a 33-5 record against Chattanooga. The Vols have a 22-2 record against the Mocs for games played in Knoxville. Tennessee has won four consecutive games in the series.
Tipoff between Tennessee and Chattanooga is set for 7 p.m. ET Friday.
Friday’s game is not on television, but is available to watch online at WatchESPN.com.
(© 2016 WBIR)