Game 28: Vols Look for Victory to Stay in SEC Division Title Chase
|C ||4 Wayne Chism|
|F||1 Tyler Smith|
|G ||30 J.P. Prince|
|G ||32 Scotty Hopson|
|G ||3 Bobby Maze|
|C ||23 Alex Tyus |
|F ||21 Dan Werner |
|F ||25 Chandler Parsons |
|G ||33 Nick Calathes |
|G ||15 Walter Hodge |
UT Seeks Fifth Consecutive Win Over Gators
- 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 had four players score in double figures as the Vols downed Mississippi State 81-76 Wednesday night in Knoxville. Freshman guard Scotty Hopson scored a game-high 21 points.
- Tennessee has won four straight games against Florida and six of the last seven meetings. The Vols 89-86 triumph on March 5, 2008, marks the last time a UF opponent left the O-Dome with a victory.
- In head-to-head meetings, Bruce Pearl owns a 6-1 edge against Florida's Billy Donovan. The Vols under Pearl have averaged 84.6 ppg in those six contests.
- In UT's last five games, the Vols have forced 93 total turnovers for an average of 18.6 per game.
- UT is 3-3 in SEC road games this season and shot better than its opponent in all three victories.
- The junior frontcourt tandem of Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism has combined for between 36 and 38 points in each of Tennessee's three SEC road wins (at Georgia, at Vanderbilt and at Arkansas).
- Tennessee's 44 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.
- The UT bench has outscored the opposition's bench 644-366 this season. The Vols' bench has scored more than the opponents' in 24 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).
- UT's strength of schedule is rated the toughest in the nation by RPIratings.com.
- Tennessee's postseason résumé includes five wins over teams with an NCAA RPI of No. 45 or better. The Volunteers have played a total of 11 games against top-45 teams in the most recent RPI.
- Tennessee has an all-time record of 1,438-918-2 in 100 seasons of basketball.
- Tennessee's 78.4 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
- Since Jan. 17, the Vols have improved their scoring defense by 8.9 ppg (76.3 to 67.4).
- The Vols are 16-1 this season when they shoot a higher percentage than their opponent.
- Tennessee is 17-4 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 24 of UT's 27 games this season.
- Tyler Smith is the only player in the SEC to rank among the top 20 in the league in scoring (seventh, 17.0 ppg), rebounding (18th, 5.8 rpg) and assists (seventh, 3.4 apg).
- Wayne Chism has led UT in scoring eight times this year 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 40 assists in UT's last eight games. He is averaging 3.8 apg in SEC games to rank sixth in the conference.
- Prince is shooting .630 (46-of-73) from the floor in SEC games this season.
- Bruce Pearl is six 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 87-8 when leading or tied with five minutes left in the game.
- UT is 59-6 when scoring 80 or more points under the direction of Bruce Pearl.
- Bruce Pearl is 18-10 against ranked teams at UT.
- UT's 642 regular-season SEC victories rank third all-time in the SEC. Only Kentucky and Alabama have won more league games.
- Tennessee is 255-90 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 55-6 at Thompson-Boling Arena since the start of the 2005-06 season.
The Florida Series
Saturday's game marks the 116th all-time meeting between the two schools, with Tennessee holding a 67-48 series advantage ... Tennessee posted a 79-63 win in Knoxville last month after sweeping the series last season ... The Vols have won eight of the last 10 meetings ... 13 of the last 18 meetings have been decided by 10 points or less ... Tennessee leads the series 40-15 when playing in Knoxville ... UF has a 30-23 all-time edge when playing in Gainesville.
Florida (21-7, 8-5 SEC) was defeated Tuesday night at LSU ... The Gators are 15-0 at home and have won 17 straight home contests dating to last season ...UF is 66-6 at home the last four seasons and has won 32 of its last 38 SEC games at home ... Sophomore guard Nick Calathes continues to shine for the Gators and has scored 15+ in 22 of 28 games, including a triple-double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against Georgia Jan. 28 ... Alex Tyus (12.5 ppg) and Chandler Parsons (10.1 ppg) and are the other Gators averaging double digits in scoring this season ... Despite a young roster, the University of Florida ranks seventh in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and leads the SEC at +1.4 ... UF's 17.2 assists per game lead the SEC and the Gators rank second with 8.1 3-pointers made per game ... Florida was picked by league media to finish second in the SEC Eastern Division this season.
Last Clash With Florida
Tennessee hit a season-high 12 3-pointers and led wire-to-wire en route to a convincing 79-63 win over Florida Jan. 31 at Thompson-Boling Arena ... The victory was UT's fourth straight over the Gators in Knoxville and helped Bruce Pearl
improve to 6-1 in head-to-head meetings with Billy Donovan ... The Vols shot 49.2 percent in the game, including going 12-for-28 (.429) from beyond the arc ... The Vols outscored the Gators in the paint (32-24) and on the fast break (17-6) while forcing 18 UF turnovers (tied for the second-most by Florida all season) ... Vols freshman Scotty Hopson
led UT in scoring for the first time all season, exploding for a season-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting that included a 4-of-6 effort from long range ... Tyler Smith
added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Wayne Chism
chipped in with 12 points and nine boards ... J.P. Prince
tallied a career-high nine assists ... Florida was led by Nick Calathes, who scored 21 points ... Chandler Parsons added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Gators ... The UT athletics department raised more than $85,000 for UT Medical Center's Cancer Institute during its OUTLIVE initiative to raise funds for and awareness about early cancer detection ... Thousands in the crowd of 20,984 wore OUTLIVE t-shirts to create a "white-out."
Tennessee Top-Rated SEC Team in NCAA's RPI
In the NCAA's most recent RPI listing (through the games of Feb. 23), Tennessee occupies the No. 25 spot ... The Volunteers are the highest-rated team in the Southeastern Conference, with the next-closest league team landing at No. 33 (LSU) ... Tennessee boasts wins over five teams with a top-45 RPI, and the Vols have played 11 total games against teams with a top-45 rating ... UT has played only three teams with an RPI of 200 or lower.
A Freshman No More?
The light switch has been turned on (as they say) for Vols freshman guard Scotty Hopson
recently ... Despite plenty of distracting storylines surrounding him and UT's last two opponents, he has played with the poise of a veteran ... In his first collegiate appearance in his home state (at Kentucky Feb. 21), Hopson scored a team-high 14 points during 30 solid minutes in a rowdy Rupp Arena ... He followed that performance with a game-high 21 points Wednesday vs. Mississippi State (the team to which he originally committed before eventually signing with Tennessee) ... In the last two games, Hopson is shooting 52.0 percent from the floor, 41.7 percent from long range and averaging a team-best 17.5 points.
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.
Vols Have Tasted Success In O-Dome
Since the 2005-06 season (Bruce Pearl's
first at UT), no Florida opponent has won more games than the Vols at UF's O'Connell Center ... Pearl has led the Big Orange to a pair of wins in three tries there ... No other team has multiple wins in Gainesville.
Vols Valuing The Basketball
Tennessee has had 15 or less turnovers in each of it's last 11 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 seven of the last 11 games ... On the season, Tennessee is 14-1 when its opponent has a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
After allowing an average of 76.3 ppg through Jan. 17, UT has allowed an average of 67.4 ppg in its last 11 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) ... The Vols forced 25 turnovers against Georgia on Feb. 11 before forcing 23 turnovers on a season-high 15 steals against Vanderbilt Feb. 14.
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).