The Tennessee basketball program released the non-conference portion of its 2016-17 schedule Friday. Major-conference opponents for the Volunteers include 2016 national runner-up North Carolina as well as Georgia Tech, Gonzaga and Kansas State.
In their second season under the direction of head coach Rick Barnes, the Vols also will play four in-state opponents, with home games against Chattanooga, Tennessee Tech and Lipscomb and a road trip to face ETSU in Johnson City.
A Thanksgiving-week trek to play in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational hosted by Chaminade University, and contests against Appalachian State and Presbyterian round out Tennessee’s 13-game non-conference slate.
Fans will have their first opportunity to see the 2016-17 Volunteers in action during a Nov. 3 exhibition game against Division II Slippery Rock University out of Pennsylvania.
With just three upperclassmen on its roster, Tennessee will be a youthful–but skilled and athletic–squad in 2016-17. Returning swingman Robert Hubbs III (10.6 ppg) and incoming graduate transfer Lew Evans (8.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg at Utah State) are the team’s only seniors, while explosive guard Detrick Mostella (8.4 ppg) is the lone junior.
A trio of rising sophomores who were significant contributors last season–guard Shembari Phillips (5.4 ppg, .368 3FG) and forwards Kyle Alexander (3.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg) and Admiral Schofield (7.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg)–looks to expand their respective roles, while point guard Lamonté Turner provides a boost in the backcourt after redshirting last season.
The Vols also welcome six scholarship freshmen in guards Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden and Kwe Parker and forwards John Fulkerson, Jalen Johnson and Grant Williams.
Additional depth is provided by sophomore guards Lucas Campbell and Brad Woodson.
The Southeastern Conference portion of Tennessee’s schedule is expected to be released in August.
Season tickets go on sale in early September, and single-game tickets will become available in October.
Chattanooga | Thursday, Nov. 3
Head Coach: Matt McCall, 2nd year
Last Season: 29-6, 15-3 SoCon; NCAA Tournament Second Round
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 33-5
Streak: Tennessee has won four straight meetings
Notes: Chattanooga, which finished 29-6 last season, visits Thompson-Boling Arena for UT’s regular-season opener on Friday, Nov. 11.
First-year Mocs head coach Matt McCall was named the 2016 Southern Conference Coach of the Year after guiding UTC to a school-record wins total, the regular-season SoCon Championship and the SoCon Tournament title.
The upstart Mocs recorded road wins at Georgia, Illinois and Dayton last season.
Last year’s top-three scorers all return for Chattanooga and include senior forward Tre’ McLean (12.1 ppg, .365 3FG), senior forward Justin Tuoyo (11.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.3 bpg) and senior guard Greg Pryor (9.8 ppg, 3.5 apg).
McLean was a first-team All-SoCon performer, while Tuoyo has been tabbed as the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year in each of the last two seasons.
Appalachian State | Tuesday, Nov. 15
Head Coach: Jim Fox, 3rd year
Last Season: 9-22, 7-13 Sun Belt
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 4-0
Notes:Tennessee’s second regular-season game–and its final contest before making the more than 4,400-mile trip southwest to Maui–takes place at home Tuesday, Nov. 15, against Appalachian State. The programs last met in 2005.
App State logged just nine wins last year in its second season under head coach Jim Fox, but the Mountaineers are expected to return three of their top-five scorers.
Rising sophomore wing Ronshad Shabazz (11.9 ppg, .367 3FG) was the team’s second-leading scorer last year. His contributions will be bolstered by those of junior forward Griffin Kinney (6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and sophomore guard Emarius Logan (5.7 ppg, .348 3FG).
Also joining the Mountaineers this season is true-freshman guard Patrick Good, who starred at David Crockett High School in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Maui Jim Maui Invitational hosted by Chaminade University | Nov. 21-23
Tournament Field: Chaminade, UConn, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Wisconsin
Notes: During Thanksgiving week, the Volunteers join an incredible eight-team field at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational hosted by Chaminade University. This trip to Hawaii marks Tennessee’s third time competing in the Maui Invitational. The Vols turned in a fourth-place finish in 2004 and a seventh-place finish in 2011.
Tennessee owns a 9-15 all-time record against the teams composing the 2016 field.
Those teams include 2016 NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds and Final Four participants North Carolina and Oregon. The Tar Heels and Ducks join Wisconsin and UConn as Maui teams that are expected to land in the preseason top 25.
The tournament bracket will be announced later this summer. Fans interested in traveling with the Vols to Maui can obtain information on travel packages HERE.
Georgia Tech | Saturday, Dec. 3
Head Coach: Josh Pastner, 1st year
Last Season: 21-15, 8-10 ACC
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 42-27
Streak: Georgia Tech has won two straight meetings
Notes: There is plenty of history in this series, as these programs met annually from 1945-68 (Tech was a member of the SEC from 1932-64). This year’s showdown takes place Saturday, Dec. 3 in Knoxville.
After spending the last seven seasons as the head coach at Memphis, Josh Pastner was hired to lead the Georgia Tech program in April. Pastner twice brought his Tigers to Knoxville, but the in-state series with the Vols was not renewed following the 2012-13 campaign, which marked his last visit to Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee signed its current series contract with the Yellow Jackets prior to last season. This year’s meeting is the second of the four-game contract that spans four seasons. The Big Orange fell to Georgia Tech 69-67 last November. When the series is contested in Knoxville, UT owns a 25-9 advantage.
Last season, Georgia Tech earned an NIT berth and advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated at San Diego State. The Yellow Jackets must replace their top four scorers from that team.
Senior forward Quinton Stephens (5.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg) started 14 games for Tech last season, including nine ACC contests.
Presbyterian | Tuesday, Dec. 6
Head Coach: Gregg Nibert, 28th year
Last Season: 11-20, 5-13 Big South
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 1-0
Notes: Tennessee hosts Presbyterian College at Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Located in Clinton, South Carolina, PC has an enrollment of 1,026. The Blue Hose are entering their ninth year in the Division I ranks.
Presbyterian won three of its final five games last year, including a dramatic one-point win over Radford in the opening round of the Big South Tournament.
Leading the way for the Blue Hose this season is redshirt junior guard Reggie Dillard (8.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 apg) and senior forward Ed Drew (6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
at North Carolina | Sunday, Dec. 11
Head Coach: Roy Williams, 13th year
Last Season: 33-7, 14-4 ACC
All-Time Series: North Carolina leads, 8-1
Streak: North Carolina has won three straight meetings
Notes: Despite Tennessee and North Carolina sharing a border, these programs have only met nine times previously on the hardwood, with the Tar Heels holding a clear advantage in the series.
This year’s meeting takes place Sunday, Dec. 11, in Chapel Hill at the Dean Smith Center. UNC will make a return trip to Knoxville in 2017-18.
In addition to UT head coach Rick Barnes hailing from North Carolina (Hickory), three Tennessee freshmen also hail from the Tar Heel State in Jalen Johnson (Durham), Kwe Parker (Fayetteville) and Grant Williams (Charlotte).
North Carolina is projected as a consensus top-10 team after winning 33 games and finishing as the national runner-up in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Despite losing senior leaders Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, the Tar Heels return six of their eight leading scorers from last season and also boast a crop of newcomers that was rated among the top-10 nationally.
Top returners for UNC include junior guard Joel Berry II (12.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, .382 3FG), junior wing Justin Jackson (12.2 ppg, 2.8 apg) and senior forward Kennedy Meeks (9.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Tennessee Tech | Tuesday, Dec. 13
Head Coach: Steve Payne, 6th year
Last Season: 19-12, 11-5 OVC
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 22-1
Streak: Tennessee has won six straight meetings
Notes: The Vols and Golden Eagles meet for the 24th time when TTU visits Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 13. It will be Tennessee’s second game in three days, as the Big Orange will have hosted UNC two days prior.
The Golden Eagles accepted an invitation to the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament last season and fell to Old Dominion in the opening game. Percentage-wise, Tech enjoyed one of its hottest-shooting seasons in program history. The team’s .364 3-point percentage was the fifth-best mark in school history, while its .743 free-throw percentage ranked third all-time.
Rising junior guard Aleksa Jugovic (12.1 ppg, 2.9 apg) shot .420 from 3-point range last year. It was the fifth-best single-season percentage in TTU history.
Lipscomb | Thursday, Dec. 15
Head Coach: Casey Alexander, 4th year
Last Season: 12-21, 8-7 A-Sun
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 2-0
Notes: Tennessee’s home tilt against Nashville-based Lipscomb on Thursday, Dec. 15, will be the Vols’ third game in five days.
Although it only totaled a dozen victories last season, Lipscomb won eight of its last 14 games and reached the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.
The Bison are expected to return 94 percent of their scoring from that squad. Rising senior guard and 1,000-point scorer Josh Williams (12.6 ppg, .429 3FG) returns from an injury and figures to be among the top mid-major players in the nation. He’ll be flanked by rising junior guard Nathan Moran (12.1 ppg, 4.6 apg).
Rising sophomore guard Garrison Mathews (10.9 ppg, .349 3FG) finished his first collegiate campaign strong, scoring a career-high 27 points in Lipscomb’s final game last season. Mathews and forward Eli Pepper (7.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg) both were named to the five-man Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team.
- Gonzaga (Nashville) | Sunday, Dec. 18
Head Coach: Mark Few, 18th year
Last Season: 28-8, 15-3 WCC
All-Time Series: Gonzaga leads, 3-1
Streak: Gonzaga has won three straight meetings
Notes: Tennessee treats its midstate fans to a high-profile, regular-season clash against perennial powerhouse Gonzaga on Sunday, Dec. 18, at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.
The Vols journeyed west for a showdown with the Bulldogs in Seattle last season, and Gonzaga emerged with an 86-79 victory. This year’s neutral-site meeting takes place in the Volunteer State.
Veteran head coach Mark Few led the Zags to at least 24 wins in each of the last nine seasons. And with center Przemek Karnowski set to return for a fifth year (me missed most of last season–including the Tennessee game–with a back injury), Gonzaga appears set for another strong season in 2016-17.
As a junior in 2014-15, Karnowski (10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) earned first-team All-West Coast Conference and WCC All-Tournament Team honors. The Bulldogs 2016-17 roster also will be bolstered by the additions of incoming transfers transfers Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Jonathan Williams III (Missouri).
Most early projections have the Zags entering the season as a top-20 team.
at ETSU | Thursday, Dec. 22
Head Coach: Steve Forbes, 2nd year
Last Season: 24-12, 14-4 SoCon
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 15-2
Streak: Tennessee has won nine straight meetings
Notes: For the first time since 1963, Tennessee will travel to Johnson City to face ETSU, and the 6,000-seat Freedom Hall Civic Center is sure to be rocking on Thursday, Dec. 22.
The Volunteers won each of their four previous matchups with ETSU in Johnson City, logging road wins in 1945, 1946, 1952 and 1963.
In his first season leading the Bucs, former UT assistant Steve Forbes guided ETSU to a second-place finish in the 2015-16 Southern Conference regular-season race as well as an appearance in the SoCon Tournament championship game (where it fell to Chattanooga).
The Bucs’ season ended in the semifinals of the Vegas 16 Tournament, and their 24 wins were the third-most in program history.
ETSU returns its second-leading scorer from last season in senior guard T.J. Cromer (14.9 ppg, .365 3FG). The Bucs frontcourt also features a trio of eligible Division I transfers: senior center Peter Jurkin (Indiana), senior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Indiana) and senior forward Tevin Glass (Wichita State).
A veteran-laden team, the Bucs roster boasts 11 upperclassmen.
Kansas State | Saturday, Jan. 28
Head Coach: Bruce Weber, 5th year
Last Season: 17-16, 5-13 Big 12
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads, 1-0
Notes: Tennessee breaks from conference play to host Kansas State as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, presented by Sonic, at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017.
The Wildcats visited Rocky Top for the 2014 Challenge, and Tennessee posted a 65-64 win.
Tennessee’s all-time record against current members of the Big 12 stands at 11-17. Second-year UT head coach Rick Barnes–who spent 17 seasons coaching in the Big 12 before transitioning to Knoxville prior to last season–owns a 157-94 record against current Big 12 teams and is 12-11 in his career against K-State.
Among the returners expected to play key roles for Kansas State this season are senior wing Wesley Iwundu (11.9 ppg, 3.7 apg), sophomore forward Dean Wade (9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and sophomore guard Barry Brown (8.6 ppg, .336 3FG).
The Wildcats also will benefit from the return of point guard Kamau Stokes (9.4 ppg, .340 3FG), who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Ole Miss in last year’s Challenge game. K-State was 13-8 with Stokes in the lineup last season and 4-8 without him.