Feb. 8, 2013
HOOPS REPORT: Stokes' Size May Be Big Against Gamecocks
The Tennessee basketball team hits the road this weekend to face South Carolina (12-10, 2-7 SEC) Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.
The Volunteers (11-10, 3-6 SEC) seek to snap a two-game skid and extend their active streak of 11 consecutive victories over the Gamecocks, dating to UT's 2008 SEC Championship campaign.
In its first season under head coach Frank Martin, South Carolina boasts a projected starting lineup whose tallest player is 6-5. The Gamecocks' quick and aggressive style of play puts pressure on the opposition and makes it difficult to establish offensive rhythm - particularly along the perimeter.
Volunteers head coach Cuonzo Martin met with reporters prior to Friday's practice at Pratt Pavilion, and he was asked about the importance of getting the ball inside to his 6-8, 270-pound power forward Jarnell Stokes during Sunday's game.
"I think it's really important, regardless of who we're playing, to get it inside to him," Martin said. "But again, if we get it inside to him and (opposing players) are hovering around him, we've got to be able to make shots on the perimeter when he passes the ball out.
"And also, when (Jarnell) dumps it down to our opposite big guy, we've got to finish those plays."
The SEC's top rebounder in league games (9.8 rpg), Stokes is riding a streak of four straight double-doubles. Since conference play began, Stokes has countered opposing double teams - which often make It difficult for UT's perimeter players to make confident post-entry passes - with a blue-collar approach to create field-goal opportunities for himself: offensive rebounding.
Over the last four games, the sophomore All-SEC candidate is averaging 5.5 offensive rebounds per game. And his average of 3.9 offensive rebounds in SEC games is tops among all league players.
The Vols will practice Saturday afternoon in Knoxville before departing for Columbia. Tipoff for Sunday's contest is set for 1:07 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised regionally on FOX Sports South.
No player on Tennessee's roster has ever experienced a loss to the Gamecocks.
GOLDEN RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Junior guard Trae Golden took part in limited practice work Friday. It was his first on-court activity since suffering a right hamstring strain during the first half of Tennessee's home win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 29.
Golden did not dress for either of UT's last two games.
"We'll see how (Trae) does, and we'll go from there," Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin said Friday when asked if Golden would be available at South Carolina Sunday. "The key is to make sure he's ready. We want him to be able to be productive. We also have to look at where his conditioning is at, because (he's been out) for a week."
With a scoring average of 10.0 points per game, Golden is Tennessee's third-leading scorer this season. He ranks fourth in the SEC with 3.9 assists per game and also owns a 2.14 assist/turnover ratio.
The Powder Springs, Ga., native is sitting on 298 career assists. His eventual return to action will bring with it a chance to become the 13th Vol to reach the 300-assist milestone. Golden has appeared in 84 games during his Big Orange career.
MILLER ALSO MOBILIZED
Senior forward Dwight Miller also took a more active role in Tennessee's practice Friday. Miller has struggled to bounce back from a knee injury suffered last season.
At Pratt Pavilion Friday, Miller participated in live, full-court drills, marking his most extensive work of the season. He had previously been limited mostly to shooting drills and sparse half-court activity.
As a junior last season, Miller appeared in 23 games and averaged 2.4 points. He shot .510 from the field and logged 14 blocked shots.
He transferred to Tennessee from Midland College in Texas after beginning his collegiate career at Pittsburgh.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR BOTH UPCOMING ROAD GAMES
Fans interested in hitting the road to support the Vols during the team's two-game road swing can purchase tickets for each contest.
Tickets remain available for both Sunday's game at South Carolina and Wednesday's rivalry clash at Vanderbilt.
Tennessee supporters who want to cheer on the Vols as they look to extend their current 11-game win streak over the Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., can call 800-472-3267 or visit: CLICK HERE
To inquire about tickets for Wednesday's contest at Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tenn., fans can call 877-44-VANDY or visit: CLICK HERE