Tennessee Basketball Notes - SEC Tournament

March 10, 2009

Game 31: Vols Look for First SEC Tournament Title Since 1979

Quick Facts

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C 4 Wayne Chism
F1 Tyler Smith
G 30 J.P. Prince
G 32 Scotty Hopson
G 3 Bobby Maze

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 Trends

  • 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 Tournament victories.

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 (1995).





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