Jan. 22, 2013
HOOPS REPORT: Vols Aim to `Close it Out' Thursday at Ole Miss
The Tennessee basketball team visits Oxford, Miss., to take on the 23rd-ranked Ole Miss Rebels Thursday at C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum. When the action tips off at 7 p.m. ET, the Rebels (15-2, 4-0 SEC) will be looking to preserve their unblemished record in SEC play. The Volunteers (9-7, 1-3 SEC), meanwhile, will be scrapping for their first true road win of the season.
Victory in opponents' gyms has been elusive for UT, which has visited Georgetown, Virginia, Alabama and Kentucky thus far. Tennessee's average margin of defeat in those contests was 5.5 points.
"I think there were spurts in (those games), especially late, where you give yourself a chance to win and there is a turnover, a missed assignment, a missed box-out and they make a play," Martin said. "That's what happens when you're at home; those teams find ways to win games. We've put ourselves in position, now we have to close it out."
The key to closing it out?
"It's hard to say one thing," Martin said. "It's getting key stops when you need to, not turning the ball over in key situations and making key plays. Simple as that, in my opinion."
It will take a complete, 40-minute effort to earn that breakthrough road win Thursday in Oxford. The Rebels rank third nationally in scoring, putting up 82.4 points per game.
In SEC games, the Rebels not only have the league's top scorer - guard Marshall Henderson averages 21.3 ppg - but they also boast the league's top two rebounders - Reginald Buckner (11.5 rpg) and Murphy Holloway (9.8 rpg).
As a team, Ole Miss leads the conference in scoring (80.2 ppg), free-throw percentage (.754), total rebounding (42.0 rpg) and offensive rebounding (13.8 orpg) in league games.
"They're definitely a real tough team this year," Vols sophomore Josh Richardson said Tuesday. "Henderson was a great addition to their team. And with (Jarvis) Summers running their team - he's got a great assist-to-turnover ratio - it will be a tough game."
While Summers' name flies somewhat under the radar due to the presence of Henderson, Holloway and Buckner, the Vols are aware of the impact the Rebels' sophomore point guard can have on a game.
"Summers is definitely a great player," Richardson said. "He's really good off the dribble. We definitely need to keep pressure on him the whole game. We can't let him get comfortable like we did the last game."
That last game, back on Jan. 9 in Knoxville, saw Ole Miss hand the Vols a 92-74 defeat. Now, Tennessee looks to return the favor on the Rebels' home floor.
"You keep putting yourself in position to win, so now it's just a matter of learning from (the previous road losses) and getting yourself over the hump," Martin said. "(It's about) learning what happened, getting that key stop and communication. Five guys depending on each other to get those key stops and carrying out those key assignments."
EMPHASIS OF THE DAY
Tuesday's "Emphasis of the Day" - daily midcourt talking points spearheaded by head coach Cuonzo Martin prior to each practice - focused on unity.
Unity is the key to peace and success:
- Focus on what we have in common
- Be realistic in our expectations
- Choose to encourage rather than criticize
- Refuse to listen to gossip
- Let us battle together
COACHES VS. CANCER "SUITS AND SNEAKERS" WEEKEND
The National Association of Basketball Coaches' annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits And Sneaker awareness weekend take place Jan. 25-27. Tennessee hosts Alabama on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thompson-Boling Arena (2:05 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
NABC coaches across America will be wearing sneakers during their games to show support for Coaches vs. Cancer - a joint effort of the American Cancer Society and the NABC that empowers basketball coaches to help make a difference in the fight against cancer.
Cuonzo Martin and his entire Tennessee coaching staff will wear adidas sneakers with their suits Saturday.
Martin is a cancer survivor, as his professional playing career was cut short due to a bout with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He received his last treatment on April 20, 1998, and is now in full remission.
For a video of Martin speaking about his battle with cancer, click HERE.