Game 27: Vols Look to Get Back on Winning Side Versus Mississippi State
|C ||4 Wayne Chism|
|F||1 Tyler Smith|
|G ||30 J.P. Prince|
|G ||32 Scotty Hopson|
|G ||3 Bobby Maze|
|C ||32 Jarvis Varnado|
|G ||25 Phil Turner |
|G ||3 Dee Bost |
|G ||22 Barry Stewart|
|G ||2 Ravern Johnson |
UT Seeks Fifth Consecutive Win Over Bulldogs
- 2008-09 marks Tennessee's 100th season of varsity basketball. The season-long centennial celebration included the selection of a Tennessee Basketball All-Century Team, which was honored Feb. 14.
- In its last outing, Tennessee suffered a 77-58 setback at Kentucky last Saturday. It marked the first time the Volunteers had dropped back-to-back SEC games since January of 2007.
- Tennessee enters Wednesday's contest with Mississippi State looking to avoid its first-ever three-game SEC losing streak under head coach Bruce Pearl.
- Tennessee owns a perfect 3-0 record against Mississippi State during the Bruce Pearl era. The Vols under Pearl have averaged 85.3 ppg in those contests, while the Bulldogs have averaged 73.3 ppg.
- The Vols rank fourth nationally with an average attendance of 20,585. UT trails only Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse. Thompson-Boling Arena has hosted four crowds of 21,000+ this season.
- Tennessee's 43 Southeastern Conference wins over the past four seasons are the most among all league teams. After claiming the outright SEC title last season, the Vols were picked to win the league this year.
- In UT's last four games, the Vols have forced 76 total turnovers for an average of 19.0 per game.
- The UT bench has outscored the opposition's bench 632-366 this season. The Vols' bench has scored more than the opponents' in 23 games, and has done so by at least 17 points in 10 different games.
- Tennessee took some lumps but bolstered its postseason preparation with an unbelievably challenging January schedule. UT's slate last month included games against Kansas (L), Gonzaga (L), Georgia (W), Kentucky (L), South Carolina (W), Vanderbilt (W), Memphis (L), LSU (L) and Florida (W). By the time Feb. 1 rolled around, those opponents had combined to boast a 139-49 (.739) record.
- Tennessee under coach Bruce Pearl owns a 22-8 (.733) record in the month of February.
- UT's strength of schedule is rated the toughest in the nation by RPIratings.com and TheHoopsReport.com.
- Tennessee's postseason résumé includes four wins over teams currently listed among Sagarin's top 55.
- Tennessee has an all-time record of 1,438-918-2 in 100 seasons of basketball.
- Tennessee's 78.3 points per game rank third the SEC this year. Pearl's teams have led their respective league in scoring in 15 of his 16 full seasons as a head coach.
- Since Jan. 17, the Vols have improved their scoring defense by 9.8 ppg (76.3 to 66.5).
- The Vols are 15-1 this season when they shoot a higher percentage than their opponent.
- Tennessee is 16-4 this season when it holds its opponent under 80 points. The Vols are 0-6 when the opposition scores 80 or more.
- The Vols' bench has outscored the opponent's bench in 23 of UT's 26 games this season.
- Tyler Smith is the only player in the SEC to rank among the top 20 in the league in scoring (seventh, 17.2 ppg), rebounding (20th, 5.7 rpg) and assists (seventh, 3.4 apg).
- Wayne Chism is averaging 13.1 ppg (18th in the SEC) and 8.4 rpg (fifth in the SEC) this season.
- Chism has led UT in scoring eight times this season and recently scored his 1,000th career point.
- UT owns a 9-1 record when Chism records a double-double (5-1 this season).
- J.P. Prince has 38 assists in UT's last seven games. He is averaging 4.0 apg in SEC games to rank sixth in the conference.
- Prince is shooting .618 (42-of-68) from the floor in SEC games this season.
- Bruce Pearl is seven wins shy of logging his 100th victory at Tennessee.
- The Vols are 28-2 in non-conference home games under Bruce Pearl.
- Under Bruce Pearl, UT is 86-8 when leading or tied with five minutes left in the game.
- UT is 58-6 when scoring 80 or more points under the direction of Bruce Pearl.
- Bruce Pearl is 18-10 against ranked teams at UT.
- UT's 641 regular-season SEC victories rank third all-time in the SEC. Only Kentucky and Alabama have won more league games.
- Tennessee is 254-90 in 22 seasons in Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols have posted winning home records in 18 of their 21 full seasons in the facility.
- Tennessee is 54-6 at Thompson-Boling Arena since the start of the 2005-06 season.
The Mississippi State Series
Tennessee leads the all-time series 73-38 ... UT has won the last four meetings, including a 76-71 decision in Starkville last year ... The Vols took a 92-84 win in the last meeting in Knoxville during the 2006-07 season ... Mississippi State holds a narrow 26-24 advantage when the series is played in Starkville ... The Vols hold a 42-9 all-time advantage when the series is played in Knoxville, and MSU hasn't won in Knoxville since 1999 ... 12 of the last 16 meetings have been decided by eight points or less ... The Vols and Bulldogs have met three times in the SEC Tournament, with MSU winning two of those meetings ... The Mississippi State series dates to the 1924 season ... UT defeated MSU 20-17 on Jan. 15, 1924, in the first meeting between the two schools.
Noting Mississippi State
Mississippi State (17-10, 7-5 SEC) snapped a two-game losing streak last Wednesday with a home win over South Carolina but fell in overtime at Alabama on Saturday ... The Bulldogs under 12th-year head coach Rick Stansbury are 5-0 this season against SEC Eastern Division foes ... Stansbury owns a 225-125 record as a collegiate head coach (all at MSU) ... The Bulldogs' top player, junior center Jarvis Varnardo, leads the team in scornig 13.3 ppg), rebounding (9.3 rpg), field-goal percentage (.558) and blocks (5.0 bpg) ... Sophomore guard Ravern Johnson ranks second on the team with 12.4 ppg and is one of four Bulldogs averaging double-digit scoring ... Junior forward Barry Stewart (11.6 ppg) of Shelbyville, Tenn., recently became the 30th player in MSU history to score 1,000 career points ... Mississippi State is holding opposing SEC teams to 42.5-percent shooting from the floor to rank third in the league in field-goal percentage defense ... MSU's 7.3 blocks per game lead the conference during league play ... Mississippi State was picked by league media to finish fourth in the SEC Western Division this season.
Last Clash With Mississippi State
Tennessee built a big lead and then weathered a late Mississippi State rally to take a 76-71 win in front of 10,150 raucous Bulldog fans on Feb. 2, 2008, in Starkville ... The Vols took a 36-27 lead at the break and then built the advantage to 17 points on a pair of JaJuan Smith
free throws with 7:47 remaining ... With UT holding a 47-64 lead with just over six minutes left, the Bulldogs mounted an epic rally ... Barry Stewart drilled three consecutive 3-pointers from the right side to cut the Vols' lead to 68-56 with five minutes remaining ... Jamont Gordon then made four triples and a Jarvis Varnado dunk cut the lead to 73- 67 with two minutes remaining ... Another 3-pointer from Stewart made it 73-71 with 43 seconds left ... Jordan Howell
made three of four free throws in the final 15 seconds to stop the rally ... MSU made 7-of- 8 3-pointers during the rally ... Chris Lofton
led the Vols with 20 points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting ... JaJuan Smith
added 15 points ... 10 Vols played at least 10 minutes ... Four Vols finished the game with four fouls ... Mississippi State entered the weekend outrebounding teams by 6.0 rebounds per game but UT finished with a 42-32 advantage on the boards ... Stewart led the Bulldogs with 21 points on 6-of-8 3-point shooting ... Charles Rhodes added 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
Tennessee-Mississippi State Connections
UT junior Wayne Chism
(Bolivar Central HS) played against MSU junior Jarvis Varnardo (Haywood HS) in both high school and AAU ball ... Fellow Vols junior Tyler Smith
faced Bulldogs junior Barry Stewart in high school when Smith suited up for Giles County HS and Stewart starred at Shelbyville Central HS ... Tennessee freshman Scotty Hopson
verbally commited to play for the Bulldogs before eventually signing with the Big Orange.
Hopson Leads Vols In Return To Home State Last Saturday
Tennessee true freshman Scotty Hopson
, a native of Hopkinsville, Ky., played his first collegiate game in his home state last Saturday ... Hopson shot 4-of-16 from the floor and was 2-of-6 from 3-point range while leading scoring a team-high 14 points in 30 minutes of action ... It was just the second time this season that Hopson led the Vols in scoring ... The 30 minutes were one shy of his season-high, and it was his 11th double-digit scoring effort of the season.
Tennessee's Schedule Among The Most Difficult In America
The non-conference portion of a team's schedule is the only part of its slate that it can control, and UT was ambitious and aggressive when building its non-conference schedule for this season ... Here's a look at what the Vols have faced outside of SEC play:
Three teams that currently boast a top-25 spot in the NCAA's RPI, and 11 games against teams in the top 45 in the RPI.
Only three teams with a current RPI of 200 or lower (UNC Asheville, Georgia and Louisiana-Lafayette).
Six teams picked by their conference's coaches to win their respective league/division.
Memphis - A team riding an active 18-game win streak and sporting an NCAA RPI of No. 7.
Kansas - The Vols traveled to KU Jan. 3; the Jayhawks are 16-1 at Allen Fieldhouse this season (NCAA RPI of No. 10).
Marquette - Tennessee is one of only four teams to beat the Golden Eagles this season, and the Vols did it at a neutral site without third-leading scorer J.P. Prince.
Georgetown - The Vols downed the Hoyas 90-78 at a neutral site; UT is one of only three teams ever to score 90 against a Georgetown team coached by John Thompson III.
After allowing an average of 76.3 ppg through Jan. 17, UT has allowed an average of 66.5 ppg in its last 10 contests ... On Jan. 24, UT held Memphis to its lowest scoring output of the season (54) ... Jan. 31 against Florida, UT held the Gators to their second-lowest scoring output of the season (63) and their fourth-lowest shooting percentage of the season (.423) ... More recently, the Vols forced 25 turnovers against Georgia on Feb. 11 before forcing 23 turnovers on a season-high 15 steals against Vanderbilt Feb. 14.
Vols Valuing The Basketball
Tennessee has had 15 or less turnovers in each of it's last 10 games and has had only two negative assist-to-turnover ratios during that span ... UT's opponents, meanwhile, have had a negative assist-toturnover ratio in six of the last 10 games ... On the season, Tennessee is 13-1 when its opponent has a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
Prince A Royal Pain For Recent UT Opponents
Junior wing J.P. Prince has bean playing some of the best basketball of his career as of late ... Injury-plagued early on this season, Prince has been the picture
of productivity recently:
Florida, Jan. 31 -
Career-high 34 minutes played, and a UT career-high nine assists.
at Auburn, Feb. 7 -
Season-high 18 points, and 8-of-9 at the free-throw-line (both career-highs).
Georgia, Feb. 11 -
Career-high nine rebounds, and tied his UT career-high with three steals.
Vanderbilt, Feb. 14 -
Set a new career-high with 10 rebounds, dished out seven assists and tied career-highs for steals (3) and blocks (3).