Tennessee vs. Mercer preview: Vols return home to face a stout Mercer side

In Features by Devin Sherrer

After a very successful showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Tennessee returns to Knoxville for a matchup with Mercer on Wednesday night.

The Vols went 2-1 in the Bahamas with their only loss coming to the 4th-ranked Villanova Wildcats.

Tennessee comes into the game averaging 79.0 points per game as a team and is led by sophomore Grant Williams who performed exceptionally in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, Mercer comes into the game with a 5-2 overall record after defeating Hiwassee College 90-53 in their most recent contest.

Longtime head coach Bob Hoffman will lead the Bears into Knoxville hoping for much more than just a good showing.

Mercer has historically played well against SEC teams and will expect to do so again on Wednesday night.

Players to Watch

Lamonte Turner (Tennessee)

Turner is not the guy who is going to lead Tennessee in scoring every night; however, on the nights he does get it going, the Volunteers are going to be very dangerous.

Evidence of this was displayed during the Purdue game as Turner scored 17 points, grabbed five boards, and shot 4 of 8 from 3-point range.

Before his outburst against the Boilermakers, Turner had a quality game against High Point in which he posted 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from deep.

If he’s able to continue his production off the bench, Mercer will have a lot to handle in guarding the 6’1 sophomore.

Ria’n Holland (Mercer)

Since transferring from Wichita State after the 2014-15 season, Holland has been an all-around leader for the Bears.

Last season, Holland averaged 17.2 points per game on 44 percent shooting. This year, he has bested both of those figures by averaging 20.2 points per game on 55 percent shooting.

Holland is a quick, high-IQ guard that fits Hoffman’s style to a tee.

The Volunteers will want to limit his touches early and stay tight to him on the defensive end if they are to have success in stopping him.

How Tennessee Can Win

For Tennessee, the key will be to play with the same level of intensity that was shown during the Battle 4 Atlantis.

During each game of the tournament, the Vols were locked in and engaged for a full 40 minutes.

Now that the competition is a bit less talented, it will be up to Tennessee to not overlook a Mercer team that can be dangerous on any given night.

If the Vols stay focused for a full 40 minutes, they should be able to handle this solid Mercer squad and find advantages in rebounding, ball movement, and defense.

How Mercer Can Win

Mercer will want to limit the production of Tennessee’s offense.

So far, the Bears are holding opponents to only 61.2 points per game while averaging 82.1 points per game on offense.

If Mercer is to have a chance in Thompson-Boling arena, they will need a defensive performance that is similar to the ones they had against Jackson State, Liberty, and Drexel.

Also, Mercer will need to rebound the ball well.

Mercer comes into the game averaging more rebounds per game than Tennessee. The Bears will hope this stat holds true during Wednesday’s contest.

Game Details

Date: November 29

Time: 7 PM EST

TV: SEC Network+

I was born and raised in rural Alabama. By day, I am a your typical, nerdy computer programmer; by night, I am a devout SEC basketball fanatic. I have followed all things SEC since birth and really there is nothing I’d rather do than sit back, relax, and enjoy the roller coaster we call college basketball. I can be found on many SEC and NCAA basketball forums and have been writing basketball-related content for leisure since 2016.