Game 31: Vols Look for First SEC Tournament Title Since 1979
The Vols are the SEC East's No. 1 seed
- Tennessee enters the postseason one victory shy of posting its fourth straight 20-win campaign and its
22nd overall 20-win season. Head coach Bruce Pearl is seeking his seventh straight 20-win season.
- In its last outing, Tennessee fell victim to poor free-throw shooting (10-of-22) and a game-winning
desperation 3-pointer by Alabama's Anthony Brock as the Tide posted a 70-67 win in Knoxville.
- A win Friday against the victor of Thursday's Alabama-Vanderbilt matchup would mean that the Vols
would play in the semfinals Saturday at 3:15 p.m. ET against either Arkansas, Auburn or Florida.
- Tyler Smith became the 42nd member of UT's 1,000-point club last Sunday. The junior transfer who
played his freshman season at Iowa needed less than two full seasons to score 1,000 points as a Vol.
- Tennessee under coach Bruce Pearl owns a 5-2 (.714) record in the state of Florida.
- UT also sports a 5-2 record this season against the teams on its side of the SEC Tournament bracket.
- Tennessee owns a perfect 4-0 record in Tampa, Fla., with wins at the Univeristy of Tampa in 1948 and
1968 and victories at South Florida in 1995 and 1998. The Vols also went 2-0 in St. Petersburg in January
1974 en route to the Big Sun Invitational championship.
- For the third straight season, Tennessee ranked fourth nationally in average attendance (20,483). The
Vols drew 10 crowds of at least 20,000 this season and have drawn 30 such crowds since 2005-06.
- The Vols swept four of five divisional opponents for the third time since the SEC went to divisional
play (1999, 2006). Tennessee swept Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt this season.
- Tennessee's 46 regular-season SEC wins over the past four seasons are the most among all league teams.
- Tennessee is the only team in the storied, 76-year history of the Southeastern Conference to finish the
regular season with a better SEC record than Kentucky for four straight years.
- The Vols have posted a +8.4 rebounding margin over the last five games (38.4 to 30.0).
- UT's strength of schedule is rated second in the nation by RPIratings.com and TheHoopsReport.com.
- Tennessee's postseason résumé includes seven wins over teams with an NCAA RPI of No. 50 or
better. The Volunteers have played a total of 13 games against top-50 teams in the most recent RPI.
- 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.
- Tennessee has an all-time record of 1,440-919-2 in
100 seasons of basketball.
- In all eight of his seasons as a Division I head
coach, Bruce Pearl's teams have won at least 10
games in conference play.
- Tennessee's 78.3 points per game rank second the
SEC this year. Bruce Pearl's teams have led their
respective league in scoring in 15 of Pearl's 16 full
seasons as a head coach. South Carolina's 79.1 ppg
currently lead the conference.
- Bobby Maze (1.9), Tyler Smith (1.7) and J.P.
Prince (1.6) each rank among the top seven in the
SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Tyler Smith (3.6), Bobby Maze (3.2) and J.P.
Prince (3.1) each rank among the top 11 in the SEC
in assists per game.
- Tyler Smith is the only player in the SEC to rank
among the top 20 in the league in scoring (seventh,
17.1 ppg), rebounding (16th, 6.0 rpg) and assists
(seventh, 3.6 apg).
- J.P. Prince has a team-high 59 assists in SEC play,
including 49 in UT's last 11 games. He is averaging
3.7 apg in SEC play to rank sixth in the league.
- Prince also is shooting a stellar .629 (61-of-97)
from the floor in SEC play this season.
- The Vols are 18-1 this season when they shoot a
higher percentage than their opponent.
- Tennessee is 19-5 this season when it holds its
opponent under 80 points. The Vols are 0-6 when the
opposition scores 80 or more.
- The Vols are 28-2 in non-conference home games
under Bruce Pearl.
- Under Bruce Pearl, UT is 89-8 when leading or
tied with five minutes left in the game.
- UT is 60-6 when scoring 80 or more points under
the direction of Bruce Pearl.
- Bruce Pearl is 18-10 against ranked teams at UT.
- Tennessee is 55-7 at Thompson-Boling Arena
since the start of the 2005-06 season.
- UT's 644 regular-season SEC victories rank third
all-time in the SEC. Only Kentucky and Alabama
have won more league games.
- Tennessee is 255-91 in 22 seasons in Thompson-
Boling Arena. The Vols have posted winning home
records in 18 of their 21 full seasons in the facility.
The Big Orange In The SEC Tournament
The Vols are 55-44 all-time in the SEC
Tournament ... Since the tournament
was renewed in 1979, the Vols are 20-29
... Tennessee's four SEC Tournament
titles are the third-most of any league
member ... Only Kentucky (25) and Alabama (6) have
won the tournament more times ... Only Kentucky
(110 wins) and Alabama (56) have more SEC
Tennessee As The East's No. 1 Seed
The Vols are the SEC East's No. 1 seed for the fifth
time since league expansion in 1992 ... The Vols also
earned the East's top seed in 1999, 2000, 2006 and
2008 ... UT is 1-4 as the top seed, beating East No. 5
South Carolina in 2008 and losing to West No. 4
Mississippi State 56-62 in 1999, East No. 5 South
Carolina 68-75 in 2000, East No. 5 South Carolina
71-79 in 2006 and West No. 2 Arkansas in 2008.
Working For The Weekend
A win Friday against either Vanderbilt or Alabama
would give the Vols their second SEC semifinal
appearance since advancing to the final of the 1991
SEC Tournament ... Tennessee is 1-12 in quarterfinal
games since the 1991 SEC Tournament, with the lone
victory coming last season against South Carolina.
SEC Tournament In The Sunshine State
The only previous time the SEC Tournament took
place in Florida was in 1990, when Orlando hosted ...
UT lost in the first round to Ole Miss 87-86.
The Alabama Series
Alabama leads the all-time series 72-63 ...
Tennessee's 93-86 win last season in Tuscaloosa was
the Vols' second straight victory in the series, but the
Tide posted a 70-67 win in Knoxville last Sunday ...
Alabama holds a 9-4 edge over UT in the SEC
Tournament and has won six of the last seven in conference
tourney play ... UA leads the series 41-16
when it is played in Tuscaloosa ... Alabama is one of
only two SEC schools (along with Kentucky) to lead
its all-time series with the Vols ... Tennessee holds a
decisive 44-20 advantage when playing in Knoxville
... UT won the first-ever meeting, 49-13, between the
two schools on Feb. 6, 1914 ... The Tennessee-
Alabama rivalry is UT's third-oldest in the SEC ...
Only Tennessee's series with Kentucky (1910) and
Georgia (1913) date back further.
The Vanderbilt Series
Tennessee leads the all-time series 108-67 ... The
Vols won 76-63 Jan. 20 in Nashville before recording
a 69-50 win on Feb. 14 in Knoxville ... The Vols have
won six of the last eight meetings ... The Big Orange
own a 7-1 record vs. Vanderbilt in the SEC
Tournament, and the teams haven't met in the tourney
since 1987 ... UT leads the series 66-16 when
playing in Knoxville ... Vanderbilt leads 50-36 when
it is played on the Commodores' home court ...
Tennessee's 108 wins over Vanderbilt are the most by
the Vols over any opponent ... Tennessee and
Vanderbilt have played every season since their first
meeting during the 1922 season except for the WWII
years of 1944 and 1945 ... Only Kentucky has been
an opponent of the Vols more times than Vanderbilt
... The Vols have played the Wildcats 207 times ...
Tennessee has won more games at Vanderbilt (36)
than any other place outside of Knoxville.
Paul "Lefty" Walther Named SEC Legend
Tennessee All-Century Team member Paul "Lefty"
Walther will be honored as one of 12 Chick-fil-A
SEC Basketball Legends at the SEC Tournament ...
Walther will be honored at halftime of Tennessee's
opening game on Friday, March 13 ... Walther earned
1945 first-team All-America acclaim by Don Dunphy
and also earned second-team All-America honors in
1949 from The Sporting News ... A showman on the
court who was a three-time first-team All-
Southeastern Conference selection (1945, 1948 and
1949), Walther helped lead the Vols to the 1945 SEC
championship with an 18-5 overall record and an 8-2
mark in league play ... He captained the 1949 team
that went 19-7 and finished third in the SEC and led
the Vols in scoring as a junior and senior with 334
and 462 points, respectively ... A native of
Covington, Ky., he played four seasons in the NBA
with Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
Pearl Leads UT To Third Eastern Division Title
Despite playing in a division that boasts the NCAA's
all-time winningest program (Kentucky) and a
Florida program that claimed two of the last three
national championships, Tennessee has won three
SEC Eastern Division crowns under fourth-year head
coach Bruce Pearl
... Road success within divisional
play has been key, as UT over the last four seasons
owns 13-7 (.650) divisional road record; no other
Eastern Division team has more than nine such wins.
Pearl's Conference Success Is Staggering
In 17 seasons as a college head coach, Bruce Pearl's
teams have finished first or second in their conference
14 times, and he's never had a team finish worse
than third in its league ... Of his three third-place finishes,
the two at Southern Indiana led to an NCAA
round of 16 appearance (1998) and a national championship