Preview: Maryland Faces Tennessee in Top-15 Matchup at Barclays Center

#13 Maryland (8-1, 1-1) vs #7 Tennessee (8-1, 0-0)

When: Sunday, Dec. 11 @ 4:30 PM

Where: Barclays Center

TV: FS1; Jason Benetti (pxp), Jim Jackson (analyst)

Radio: 1300 (Baltimore), 980 AM (DC)

After dropping their first game of the season in a 64-59 loss at Wisconsin on Tuesday night, Maryland will rebound against Tennessee on Sunday afternoon. It’s the third of four games for Maryland in a tough early season stretch as the Terps are in search of their second consecutive win inside the Barclays Center after defeating Florida last season. While head coach Kevin Willard hinted there could be another marquee non-conference game next season inside the Barclays Center, he acknowledged the grind his team has endured to open up his tenure.

“I’ve never played conference games this early. So this is a big adjustment for me … I think we’ve been on the road a lot and we haven’t been at home enough practicing,” Willard said. “I can promise you this: I’ll never go through a stretch like this again in the nonconference.” Maryland saw Jahmir Young lead the way against the Badgers after finishing with a game-high 17 points while Julian Reese and Donta Scott combined for 16 rebounds, but they’ll go up against a Tennessee team less than two weeks removed from a 14-point win over Kansas. “I think defensively, this is the best defensive team I’ve seen in a long time,” Willard said on Friday.

Tennessee opens game day as a 6.5-point favorite as the Volunteers allow the lowest three-point shooting percentage (21.6%) in Division I and the third-fewest points (51.2) in Division I, providing a test for a Maryland offense that’s shown capable of providing balanced offense so far. Maryland is 6-0 when shooting at least 45.1% from the field this season while Scott and Young have combined for at least 30 points in six games this season, but the complementary scoring will loom large with inconsistent production coming off the bench.

Maryland will lean on its star frontcourt, along with reserve Patrick Emilien, to slow down the Volunteers as they’re led by freshman phenom Julian Phillips who leads the team with 12.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. Guard Zakai Zeigler has picked up right where he left his freshman season off as he leads the team with 3.5 assists while averaging over two steals per game.

Tennessee, however, will enter Sunday battling the injury bug as senior guard Santaigo Vescovi has missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury. Barnes was optimistic when asked about Vescovi’s availability for Sunday, but he isn’t alone as veteran guards Tyreke Key and Josiah Jordan-James are limited.

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