Busting Brackets

Missouri vs Tennessee: 2023-24 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Florida v Missouri
Florida v Missouri / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Missouri nearly got its first SEC win last weekend but ultimately fell short. They look for another attempt in an upset bid versus Tennessee.

TV Schedule: Tuesday, February 20, 7:00 pm ET (SECN)
Location: Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri

Time is running out for Missouri to pick its first conference win, as only six regular season games remain. The Tigers have fallen to 0-12 in conference play, much worse than many predicted coming into the season. On Saturday, Mizzou finally put together a strong offensive performance but couldn't overcome 11 made threes by Ole Miss. In his return after a two-game absence, Sean East II picked up where he left off, scoring 25 points in the 79-76 loss to the Rebels.

Missouri (8-17) has been inconsistent on both ends of the court this season. The return of East should help improve the offense, he had an immediate impact against Ole Miss, leading Mizzou to only its fourth game in conference play with 75 or more points. East (16.0 ppg) is the driving force behind this Missouri offense and is also the only Tiger who can create shots with any consistency.

Tamar Bates (14.0 ppg) has proven to be another solid scoring option, scoring 10 or more points in 15 straight games. Noah Carter (11.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Nick Honor (10.8 ppg) have been inconsistent scorers this season, but have still been good enough to average double-digit points this season. Mizzou hasn’t gotten much help on the offensive end from the rest of the team.

Even with the ups and downs of the offense, Missouri’s defense has been the bigger issue. Coming into the season it looked like Head Coach Dennis Gates had brought in some players to shore up that end of the court, but ultimately these pieces didn’t fix anything. The Tigers are allowing 74.5 points per game and getting destroyed on the offensive boards in nearly every game, allowing over 12 per game.

Tuesday night, Missouri hosts Tennessee, a nightmare matchup for the Tigers. No. 8 Tennessee (19-6) has been one of the best teams in the country all season and currently sits in second place in the SEC standings.

The Volunteers are coming into Columbia on a two-game win streak, winning both games by an average of 32 points. The Vols won its last game against Vanderbilt by 35 points. Dalton Knecht and Zakai Zeigler led Tennessee with 14 points each in the win.

Tennessee is one of the few teams in the country that dominates on both ends. The Volunteers are averaging over 80 points this season. Northern Colorado transfer Dalton Knecht (20.1 ppg) leads this high-powered Vols offense. Jonas Aidoo (11.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Zakai Zeigler (11.0 ppg, 5.6 apg) both join Knecht averaging double-digit points this season.

On the defense end, Tennessee has been strong most of the season, allowing 67.2 points per game. The Vols rebound the ball well, grabbing almost 39 per game. Tennessee is one of the best teams in the country when it comes to opponent shooting percentage. The Vols currently rank fourth in that category, holding opponents to 38.5 percent from the field. If there is one area where this Tennessee defense is vulnerable, it's the free throw line. The Volunteers are sending opponents to the line 21 times per game.

An upset by Missouri at home isn’t out of the question, but will be extremely difficult against this balanced Tennessee team. The Volunteers have dropped a couple of games they should have won, but most of the losses have come against the top teams in college basketball.

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I don’t see this being the game that Missouri picks up its first conference win this season. Tennessee is too good on both ends of the floor, and Mizzou hasn’t proven it can stop opposing offenses enough to make up for its inconsistent offense. I think Tennessee wins big in this one, and Missouri will have to wait a little longer for a win.