KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee and LSU are tied for second all-time with ten SEC regular season championships.
The Tigers haven't won one since 2009. The Vols took home a share of the title last season and are looking for their first ever back-to-back SEC titles.
Saturday's noon tip-off in Baton Rouge will go a long way in deciding who adds a year to their banner.
Kentucky will factor into that equation too but the winner of Saturday's Vols-Tigers matchup will control its own destiny in the quest for the championship.
LSU (21-5, 11-2 SEC) beat the Wildcats at Rupp Arena last week in the only meeting between the two teams this season. Tennessee lost at Rupp last Saturday, but the Vols (24-2, 12-1 SEC) will get another shot at Kentucky on March 2 in Knoxville.
Tennessee and LSU have met 111 times dating back to 1933. This is only the fifth time the Vols and Tigers will play with both teams ranked in the AP poll. The last such contest was January 8, 2000, a 64-59 Tennessee win in Baton Rouge. LSU is 3-1 in those games and two of them were decided by one point.
Will Wade's Tigers are coming off a home loss to Florida on Wednesday.
Rick Barnes' Vols rebounded from the Kentucky loss to beat Vanderbilt Tuesday in one of Tennessee's best defensive efforts of the season. The 46 points the Commodores scored are the fewest UT has allowed in a conference game in three years.
Tennessee will need its defense to be stout Saturday as LSU leads the SEC in scoring in conference games, averaging 84.7 points.
The Vols are right behind them in that stat column, putting up 82.2 points per conference game. Tennessee shoots a higher percentage (50.5%) than LSU (45.2%) but the Tigers crash the offensive glass better than anyone in the conference (39% offensive rebounding percentage in SEC play). That's been a problem for the Vols lately. Before the Vanderbilt game snapped the streak, they had allowed double-digit offensive rebounds in seven straight games.
LSU forwards Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams are tied for the SEC lead in offensive rebounds per game in conference play.
Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams will be tasked with boxing them out and winning the battle in the paint for Tennessee. The Vols have scored at least 20 in the paint in every game this season.
Another matchup to look for is at the point guard position.
LSU's Tremont Waters leads the SEC and ranks third in the country with 3.1 steals per game.
Tennessee's Jordan Bone paces the conference and is 11th nationally, averaging 6.5 assists per game.
Bob Wischusen, Dick Vitale and Allison Williams are on the call for ESPN.