Show Me My Opponent: UNC Asheville

LINEUP NOTES

UNC Asheville:

  • We don’t have a KenPom depth chart yet, but it should go Baker/Batts/Jones/Levitch/Jude.
  • Last year’s Asheville lineup traditionally went with a nine-man rotation, stretching to a ten-man in some games. Of those ten, nine players return and they’re adding two transfers. If Asheville plays 10 or 11 men prior to garbage time, it won’t be a huge surprise; I imagine Morrell will still be experimenting and trying to find rotations that work for longer than a few possessions at a time.
  • As much as you can note something on a team where nearly all lineups were bad, the Worthy/Jones/Jeremy Peck trio was -133 in 208 minutes together last year, per StatHouse Analytics.

Tennessee:

  • The Eastern New Mexico starting lineup was Turner/Bowden/Johnson/Pons/Fulkerson. The only change I think happens is James over Johnson.
  • Tennessee ran out a ten-man rotation to an extent against ENMU, with every scholarship player available getting 9+ minutes. I don’t think it’ll be quite that extreme this year, but Barnes seems pretty bent on at least an eight-man rotation with either Pember (more likely, given frontcourt depth) or Gaines getting a few minutes on the side.
  • Both Nkamhoua (18) and Kent (15) got several minutes off the bench; given Fulkerson’s penchant for foul trouble in the past, this could repeat itself.

KEY MATCHUPS

  • Lamonte Turner/Josiah James vs. DeVon Baker. This is more of a “how are we covering ball screens in 2019-20” thing than it is about either player. Tennessee’s gotta return to 2017-18 form on this, and it starts by taking care of an inefficient point guard that loves to shoot off of ball screens.
  • John Fulkerson vs. Coty Jude. Also of interest: the one fairly efficient starter we know of for Asheville that loves to shoot threes and doesn’t bang inside at all. Every member of the UNCA starting lineup can and will attempt a three, so you can’t hide him on a smaller power forward. Fulkerson needs to show improvement at extending his closeouts to 22 feet and taking care of business on pick-and-pop plays.

PREDICTION

Tennessee 81, UNC Asheville 61.

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