There is hardly any shame in losing to No. 3 Villanova, but Tennessee likely needs to win Friday to feel good about itself on its flight home from the Bahamas. The Volunteers square off against North Carolina State in Friday’s third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Tennessee upset Purdue in the opening round before falling to Villanova, which overcame a 15-point deficit to advance to Friday’s title game. That loss sent the Volunteers to the consolation contest, where they hope to shoot better from 3-point range than they did Thursday (6-of-20), and committing more fouls than the 28 they committed against Villanova wouldn’t hurt either. “We went in and they were feeling pretty good obviously and they were saying all the right things,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes told reporters of his players. “But we didn’t come out and do the right things.” North Carolina State did all the right things in Wednesday’s upset of No. 4 Arizona before coming up short in Thursday’s date with Northern Iowa 64-60.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT TENNESSEE (3-1): The Volunteers have to be thrilled with the play of sophomore forward Grant Williams, who registered 22 points against Purdue and then contributed 20 versus Villanova, pulling down eight rebounds in each contest. Admiral Schofield has scored double-digit points in each game this season, including 16 on Thursday, and hasn’t committed any turnovers in 59 minutes of play in the Bahamas. James Daniel III, who entered Thursday’s affair with eight points in three games, went for 10 points in 20 minutes and could see an increased role Friday.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (5-1): The Wolfpack suffered their first loss Thursday and were held 18 below their previous season low as many of their best players struggled from the field. The five starters for North Carolina State shot a combined 10-of-33 from the floor with Allerik Freeman, who poured in 24 points the previous day against Arizona, scuffling to 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Omer Yurtseven recorded a team-high 17 points against Northern Iowa and has enjoyed three straight productive games as his minutes have steadily increased.
1. Tennessee’s point total has decreased in all four games - from 88 to 84 to 78 and finally to 76 in the loss to Villanova.
2. Volunteers G Lamonte Turner scored a combined 33 points in the previous two games before scoring four on 1-of-9 shooting against the Wildcats.
3. Yurtseven had 13 rebounds - 10 of which came on the offensive glass - Thursday. He is averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds in the last two outings.
PREDICTION: North Carolina State 66, Tennessee 64