March 3, 2017
Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes announced Thursday that the Vols have finalized a home-and-home contract with Wake Forest, beginning with a game at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Dec. 23 next season.
The Volunteers will host the Demon Deacons in Knoxville on Dec. 22, 2018.
With one game left before the conference tournament, Wake Forest currently owns a 17-12 (8-9 ACC) record and an official RPI of No. 40 this season — its third under head coach Danny Manning. Boasting impressive wins over Miami, Georgia Tech and Louisville, the Demon Deacons have found themselves on the cusp of what would be their first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2009-10 season.
Wake Forest’s roster may be largely intact when the Vols visit Winston-Salem next season as the Deacs’ current lineup — not unlike Tennessee’s — features only two seniors.
Head coach Manning — a former Kansas standout who played 15 seasons in the NBA — came to Wake Forest prior to the 2014-15 season. Before arriving in Winston-Salem, Manning spent two seasons at Tulsa, leading the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament while being named Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2014.
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Wake Forest 8-2, dating to 1947. The Vols are a perfect 6-0 against the Demon Deacons in Knoxville, but the programs haven’t met on Rocky Top since Dec. 20, 1967. The teams split their two previous meetings in Winston-Salem, and they also split both previous meetings at neutral sites.
The most recent meeting came at the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, with UT posting an 82-63 victory.
Tennessee is 106-98 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Next season, the Vols could play as many as four regular-season games against ACC schools; Tennessee plays at Georgia Tech, will host North Carolina and could potentially collide with NC State at the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis (that bracket will be announced this summer).
Barnes—who was the head coach at Clemson from 1994-98—owns a 4-9 head coaching record against Wake Forest and a 67-73 record against current ACC programs.
Though the two-game contract was signed in December, this series took on an added storyline this week when Tennessee announced that John Currie has been selected as UTK’s next vice chancellor/director of athletics.
Currie received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest in 1993, and he began his career in collegiate athletics as an intern with the Deacon Club that same year. He served as assistant director of the Deacon Club from 1994-97 before joining the staff at Tennessee.