Assists: Braden Smith — 7.8 APG, 2.5 TOPG, 29.8 MPG
Last Four Games
76-53 win over Syracuse (Maui Invitational)
82-61 win versus Wofford
80-70 win at Wisconsin
80-42 win versus Tennessee Tech
73-63 win over Gonzaga (Maui Invitational
83-71 win versus Xavier
87-57 win versus Morehead State
98-45 win versus Samford
Tennessee basketball gets its third battle with a Big 10 power (counting the preseason) of the season on Tuesday night as they prepare to face No. 2 Purdue in the Maui Invitational semifinals.
Everything starts with the big man for Purdue: reigning National Player of the Year Zach Edey. The 7-foot-4 center presents unheard of matchup issues for any team. That’s the challenge for Tennessee and particularly junior forward Jonas Aidoo. Aidoo is one of the nation’a best post defenders and is as up to the challenge as just about anybody.
What worries me for Tennessee is that Tobe Awaka suffered an ankle injury against Syracuse. Tennessee hasn’t provided an update for Awaka’s status but if he can’t go that will be a lot of minutes and pressure for Aidoo. His ability to stay out of foul trouble will be integral in this one.
My other question for this game is whether Tennessee’s guards can force a bunch of turnovers. When Purdue started struggling last season, its young guards struggled controlling the pace and rhythm of the game but Fletcher Lloyd and particularly Braden Smith have seemingly made sizable jumps this season.
This one feels pretty close to a toss up but Tennessee’s front curt depth worries me against the Boilermakers.