KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's basketball time in Tennessee!
The Lady Vols started things off with an exhibition game victory over Carson Newman Tuesday night, with fans excited to welcome new coach Kellie Harper back to Rocky Top.
Wednesday night, the men get things going, with an exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico, and Vol fans are excited to get the season started!
Last season's men's basketball team was an all-time favorite, with unprecedented success (a 31-6 record, including a 19-game win streak, an undefeated season at home, and four weeks at number one) and some of the most popular players in Vol history (All-American and two-time SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and the colorful and talented Admiral Schofield).
The Vols lost 70% of its scoring production to graduation and the NBA and will go from one of the most experienced rosters in college basketball to one of the greenest.
So this year's team will be a little different, but the expectations are just as high. With that in mind, here are some fast facts about this season's basketVols:
- The 14 players on the squad represent seven states (Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Delaware, North Carolina, New York and South Carolina) and four countries (United States, Finland, France, and Serbia)
- UT has two seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen.
- Four Vols stand 6-5 or shorter, and 10 players are 6-6 or taller.
- Point guard Lamonte Turner has already earned his college degree in Communications Studies and redshirt junior Jalen Johnson will earn his degree in Communication Studies in December
- The senior guard duo of Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner enters the season less than 100 points away from eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for their careers
- Half of the Tennessee team are left-handed: Victor Bailey Jr., John Fulkerson, Davonte Gaines, Josiah-Jordan James, Jalen Johnson and Yves Pons. That's more than any other SEC team.
As we mentioned, the Vols have a great international flair this season, with three players from other countries on the roster.
- Vol fans are already familiar with junior wing Yves Pons, who was born in Haiti and grew up in France. He appeared in 35 games with 13 starts and shot .516 from the field
- Olivier Nkamhoua, from Helsinki, Finland, is a true freshman. The 6'4" point guard played for his home country in the 2016 FIBA U16 European Championships divisional play.
- Uros Plavsic, a redshirt freshman that stands 7 feet tall, is from Ivanjica, Serbia. He has previously competed against fellow Serbian and NBA All-Star Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, as well as Croatian NBA center Ivica Zubac.
- All three players are the first from their respective countries to play for the Vols. Overall, Tennessee has signed 10 international players in its program history
This team also has some history to live up to and streaks to keep alive!
- Tennessee enters the 2019-20 season riding a 26-game home win streak that is tied with Buffalo as the longest active streak among Division I teams. The program record for consecutive home wins is 37 (2006-09). The current streak is tied as the fourth-longest in UT history.
- Tennessee is riding a streak of 35 consecutive appearances in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. That ties a school record set March 1, 1999, through Feb. 19, 2001.
- Last season, for the first time in program history, the Volunteers spent the entire season—20 polls—in the AP top 10. Tennessee spent four straight weeks at No. 1 last season before finishing the year at No. 6.
- If UT appears in this year's AP preseason poll, that will run the current streak to 36 straight appearances, marking a new program record.
- Tennessee finished fourth nationally in average regular-season home attendance last year, drawing an average of 19,034 fans to 18 games at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols have ranked among the top 20 in men's college basketball attendance for 15 consecutive years, including seven seasons ranked in the top five nationally.
- The 2019-20 season marks the 10th anniversary of Tennessee's Elite Eight run in 2009-10. That marks still stands as UT's deepest run in the postseason ever. The squad finished with a 28-9 record.
Are you as excited as we are to watch these guys get the season started? There's an exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico at TBA on Oct. 30 then the season opener against UNC Asheville is Nov. 5, also at TBA. You can see the entire schedule here.