Nov. 20, 2013
VOL HOOPS REPORT: Josh Richardson, Security Guard
Off to a 2-1 start this season, the Tennessee basketball team is currently getting some outstanding play from its starting backcourt.
As has become the norm, senior Wooden Award candidate Jordan McRae is averaging 20-plus points per game and stuffing the stat sheet in several other statistical categories.
Transfer point guard Antonio Barton is one of the hottest shooters in the country through the first two weeks of the season - ranking third among all Division I players nationally with an .842 "true shooting percentage" (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws).
While junior wing Josh Richardson is contributing 7.7 points per game and shooting 60 percent from behind the 3-point arc, perhaps the most impressive aspect of his early-season performance has gone less noticed.
In 84 total minutes played through three games, Richardson has yet to commit a single turnover.
"Going into SEC play last year, (Josh) really struggled with his assist-to-turnover ratio," Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "We sat down and talked about it, watched film, and since then he's been very good taking care of the basketball. He doesn't do a lot of penetrating, being aggressive, looking for guys... but he's taking care of the basketball, and that's more important - to facilitate the offense and not turn the ball over."
The turnaround for Richardson last season was striking. In the 12 games leading into SEC play last year, the Edmond, Okla., native compiled a 0.26 assist/turnover ratio (7-27). But for the final21 games of his sophomore campaign, his assist/turnover ratio was a much-improved 1.57 (44-28).
Richardson is aware of the fact he's riding an active turnover-less streak - he learned of it via Twitter - but he said he's tried not to focus on that.
"You never want to turn the ball over," Richardson said. "I haven't been out there playing timid or anything, trying not to turn it over."
While visiting with reporters Wednesday before practice, Richardson also was asked about the thunderous, one-handed transition dunk he threw down during Monday night's rout of The Citadel. To see a GIF of the dunk, click HERE.
"It was kind of good to show myself I can still do that, because I don't really dunk very much anymore," Richardson said. "I felt like it kind of got our team going a little bit. Everybody started dunking after that.
"At home, when the whole crowd can get into it, (those kinds of plays take the energy in the arena) to a whole new level."
The Volunteers are hoping the energy in Thompson-Boling Arena is at a high level when they host Tennessee State Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised regionally on FOX Sports Net and also can be viewed live online or on mobile devices at ESPN3.
Tickets for Friday's game can be purchased in person at the UT Ticket Office, via phone by calling 1-800-332-8657 or online at www.UTtix.com.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE STATE
The Volunteers lead the all-time series with Tennessee State 3-0, dating to 1990. Interestingly, the Vols have played every other Division I program in the state since the last time they faced TSU (Nov. 28, 2003).
Tennessee State posted a 20-13 (11-5 OVC) record last season and finished second in its league. Four starters and 10 lettermen from that team return this year for first-year head coach Travis Williams, but The Tigers have stumbled out to an 0-5 start.
TSU opened the season with three games at the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Tigers then traveled to Kansas to face Wichita State and then hosted Lipscomb this past Monday.
UT sophomore Quinton Chievous and Tigers senior Patrick Miller are both from Chicago and were teammates in the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program. Miller is TSU's leading scorer, averaging 22.6 ppg.
Vols freshman Darius Thompson is a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who played AAU ball with TSU freshman and Nashville native Jamonte Graham (Team Nashville).
Tennessee is 49-2 all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference.