|January 9, 8:00pm EST|
TV: Raycom (WVLT 8 in Knoxville)
Radio: WLAC Online
Tennessee will try to continue their winning ways at Thompson Boling Arena tonight as they welcome the Ole Miss Rebels to town for the SEC conference opener for each team. Home games have been rare in Knoxville as of late. Tonight’s 8pm tipoff marks only the second home game for the Vols in the past 39 days.
Tennessee is 36-2 at home since 2005 and carries a 23 game winning streak. The Vols are 12-1 overall on the season and a win tonight would give them their best start since the 2000-2001 when the team sprinted out to a 16-1 record.
Ole Miss has had a quick start of their own this season with 13 straight wins without a loss. That’s quite impressive for a squad that was picked by many to finish near the bottom of the SEC West. In his weekly press conference, Bruce Pearl attributed that success to great coaching by Andy Kennedy and the emergence of Chris Warren as one of the best freshman guards in college basketball.
Despite being one of only six undefeated teams remaining, Ole Miss has not received much respect nationally to this point. That could change with a win over Tennessee in Knoxville.
Expect to see the return of the retro orange and white striped warm-up pants from the Ray Mears era tonight. Tennessee wore them in the Temple game and will continue to do so for the remainder of the conference season.
Ole Miss defeated Tennessee last season 86-72 in Oxford. The Vols, despite the absence of Chris Lofton, led 38-28 at the half before surrendering a whopping 55 second half points that would cost them the victory. JaJuan Smith led the team with 22 points. Duke Crews and Wayne Chism both found themselves in foul trouble in the second half of that game.
Pearl on Lofton:
Everyone wants to know the deal with Chris Lofton. Why has he not been as productive as expected so far this season? According to Pearl, it might have something to do with the talent on Tennessee’s roster this season.
“For a couple of years a bad shot by Chris Lofton was a good shot for Tennessee. Now a bad shot by Chris is a bad shot because we have a few more offensive options”, said Coach Pearl. Furthermore Pearl believes that Lofton doesn’t prefer the role of All-America selection and would rather prove people wrong than prove them right.
Quote of the week:
Bruce Pearl on radio today after last night’s championship game: “The Big Ten and Pac-10 have got to get their heads out of the sand. I don’t understand why they have to be like the Ivy League and not have a championship game”. The Ivy League? That’s t-shirt material.