Tennessee basketball vs. LSU: Score prediction for 'a revenge game'

·4 min read

Tennessee basketball is facing LSU again.

The No. 25 Vols (12-5, 3-3 SEC) host No. 16 LSU (15-2, 3-2) on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Here is what to know about the matchup:

Run it back, quickly

Saturday marks Tennessee's seventh SEC game. It is the second against LSU.

The Vols and Tigers met two weeks ago in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and are finishing the regular-season pairing before the first month of conference play is over.

WATCH: How to watch LSU vs. Tennessee men's basketball on TV, live stream plus game time

"It seems like it is a long time ago from my perspective because we have had so much in between and so many things we have worked through with our team and games," Vols coach Rick Barnes said.

Tennessee lost 79-67 at LSU on Jan. 8. LSU had 38 points in the paint and 23 points off turnovers.

The Vols haven't won at LSU under Barnes, who is 2-6 against the Tigers.

"LSU, it is payback," guard Kennedy Chandler said. "We have to come in. We lost to them on the road. We want to beat them. It is a revenge game.”

Santiago Vescovi 'ought to be honored'

Santiago Vescovi had a couple of testy moments in Tennessee's 68-60 win at Vanderbilt on Tuesday. The Commodores were especially physical with Vescovi, including a second-half sequences that led to four technical fouls being issued.

TOP GUY: Santiago Vescovi has backed up the preseason hype. He is Tennessee basketball's best player.

Barnes told Vescovi he "ought to be honored" by the attention teams are giving him.

"I said it tells you how good of a player you’ve become and how people think you’re that important," Barnes said. "Santi is having a great year. You look at his numbers across the board, with everything that he’s doing. I think, one, he will continue to adjust to it. But I told him yesterday, you should be proud of that. The fact that people recognize you’re that kind of player."

Vescovi is averaging 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He is shooting a career-best 37.7% from 3-point range despite facing increased defensive attention from opponents.

"He's not going to back down," Barnes said. "He’s not going to back down from anybody.”

Home sweet home

Tennessee has not lost at home this season. The Vols have three road losses in SEC play and neutral-site losses to Villanova and Texas Tech.

UT is 9-0 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

“Really, I think it is just the energy that Rocky Top gives us," guard Zakai Zeigler said. "We know that coming into everything, they are going to have our back no matter what. We have the same mindset that we are going to win.”

Tennessee has not lost in Knoxville since a 70-55 loss to Kentucky on Feb. 20, 2021.

Josiah-Jordan James status

Josiah-Jordan James is a game-time decision Saturday, Barnes said Friday.

Barnes said James suffered a cut above his eye at Vanderbilt on Tuesday. James is not in concussion protocol.

James left at the 16:03 mark of the first half against the Commodores. He tumbled to the court under the hoop by the Tennessee bench and caught an inadvertent elbow from Vanderbilt guard Jordan Wright as the Commodores ran in transition.

James is averaging 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds.

LSU battling some injury issues

Xavier Pinson has not played for LSU since he left late in LSU's win against Tennessee. The senior guard and Missouri transfer slipped while running down the court and appeared to suffer a knee injury. Tigers coach Will Wade said afterward it appeared to be a knee sprain.

Forward Darius Days suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half of LSU's 70-67 loss at Alabama on Wednesday. Wade indicated afterward the injury did not "appear to be terrible."

"X (Pinson) is making really, really good progress," Wade said Friday. "He was moving well (Friday). I don't think he's quite ready to play (Saturday), so he'll probably be out.

"But I think Days will be a game-time decision. I'd say there's a better chance than not, though, that he'll play."

Days is averaging 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. Pinson is averaging 10.9 points and 4.6 assists.

Score prediction

LSU 70, Tennessee 62: Tigers forward Tari Eason is a nightmare matchup. Tennessee is too inconsistent right now to trust in matchups like this.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee basketball vs. LSU: Score prediction for 'a revenge game'

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