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Vol Hoops Report: Dec. 11



Dec. 11, 2012


The Volunteers (4-3) begin a six-game homestand that extends into mid-January when they host No. 23 Wichita State Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET (FOX Sports South).

Tennessee trails the all-time series with Wichita State 2-0, dating to 1990. This is the first meeting in the series that is not being contested at a neutral site.

The Shockers, under head coach Gregg Marshall, are 9-0 for the third time in program history and the first time since 2006-07. Wichita State has never started a season 10-0.

The Shockers are outscoring their opponents by 14.6 points per game while out-rebounding them by 7.6 rebounds per game. In an 80-54 win over Northern Colorado Saturday, WSU made more than half of its shots for the third consecutive game, shooting 55.6 percent. Wichita made 12 3-pointers and set season-highs in 3-pointers made and attempted (24).

Tennessee's 3-point field-goal defense of .237 is tops in the SEC and ranks sixth nationally. The Vols' opponents are making an average of just 3.1 3-pointers per game.

During Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin's three-year stint as head coach at Missouri State (2009-11), he faced Marshall's Shockers twice each season. The Bears also faced WSU in the 2009 and 2010 MVC Tournaments.

This is WSU's third true road game. The Shockers have previously won at VCU and Air Force.

Tennessee is 5-7 (.417) all-time against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

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HOOPS REPORT: Martin Stresses Importance of Getting "Good Shots"

Coming off of consecutive road setbacks at Georgetown and Virginia, the Tennessee basketball team is poised to hunker down on Rocky Top for a six-game homestand that begins Thursday night against 23rd-ranked and unbeaten Wichita State (9-0).

While the Volunteers held the Hoyas and Cavaliers to an average of 41.5 points per game, the Big Orange have struggled mightily to establish any rhythm offensively. In those two most recent games, UT shot just .306 from the field and .171 from 3-point range as a team.

While visiting with local media prior to Tuesday's practice at Pratt Pavilion, Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin was asked if he planned to employ a strategy geared toward speeding up the tempo of the game and increasing possessions.

"You have to get good looks," Martin said. "You can shoot a lot of balls, but if they aren't falling, you're still in the same situation (struggling to produce points). We don't have a situation where we're saying that we have to make five or six passes (before anyone shoots it). If you make one or two passes and now you've got a good shot, you've got to shoot the ball. We just talk about getting the best looks."

In breaking down footage of recent games, Martin identified ways in which his team can increase the quality of its shot attempts.

"When we came back from the Virginia game, we saw that we had to do a better job of cutting and screening," Martin said. "We have to get better at the screening, cutting and moving. We also have to do a better job of offensive rebounding."

Martin hopes the opportunity to play in the familiar confines of Thompson-Boling Arena - on a night when legendary former head coach Ray Mears will be remembered - will help to remedy the offensive maladies of a team whose effort has never wavered.

"They're doing a great job of playing hard and competing... we've just got to make shots."

SEASON OF GIVING

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin - who recently became one of only eight Division I basketball coaches to surpass the 25,000-follower mark on Twitter (@CuonzoMartin) - is using the popular 140-character-based social media platform to encourage philanthropy during this holiday season.

On Monday, Martin posted a Tweet encouraging his followers to send him photos of themselves doing charitable acts. He plans to select a winner in the coming days, who will receive a signed poster of Martin that was used during SEC Media Day in October.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Martin had received several "@" replies on Twitter. Fans had submitted photos of themselves doing things such as working a Thanksgiving Bible camp in Guatemala, conducting a Big Brothers/Big Sisters school visit, serving meals at a community kitchen and filling up Mission of Hope bins with toys.

The UT Martin softball team sent Martin a photo of team members wrapping presents for a family it "adopted" for the holidays. Even UT baseball coach Dave Serrano's son submitted a photo of himself serving as a Salvation Army holiday bell-ringer.

Martin plans to select a winner next week. But it's clear that everyone who participated has reason to celebrate this holiday season.

VOLS IN NBA

Through Monday's NBA action, former Tennessee Freshman All-American Tobias Harris (2011) had started 14 of 17 games for the Milwaukee Bucks. The second-year NBA forward was averaging 6.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Harris' best outings this year include an 18-point outburst at Boston Nov. 2, three consecutive double-digit scoring efforts against Philadelphia, Indiana and New Orleans in mid-November and an 11-point, six-rebound game against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Nov. 21.

Former Vols point guard C.J. Watson (2003-06) is in the midst of his sixth NBA season but his first with the Brooklyn Nets. The former All-SEC performer has appeared in 19 games for the Nets this season, averaging 6.7 points, 1.8 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. Watson also is shooting .349 from 3-point range.

Watson's top showing this season include a season-high 15-points against Toronto on opening night, a 13-point effort against Sacramento on Nov. 18 during which he made 3-of-4 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and a 13-point game at Boston Nov. 28.

Watson recently scored his 2,500th NBA point, and he is approaching 850 career assists. He owns a 2.31 assist/turnover ratio during his 324-game NBA career.

For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter.

 

 

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