Sundiata Gaines, who gets 5.3 rebounds per game, and the Bulldogs (14-9, 4-6 SEC) play Kentucky tonight at 8 p.m. in Rupp Arena. The Wildcats are 15-9 overall and 5-5 in the SEC. The game will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot.
Gaines is the only Bulldog averaging more than four rebounds per game, and guard Billy Humphrey is the second-leading rebounder with 3.9 per game.
"I'm just really aggressive going to get rebounds," Gaines said. "I think I want to rebound more than anybody on the team right now."
Gaines' rebounding totally is partially attributable to time on the court because he averages more minutes than any of his teammates. However, even with rebounds broken down per minute played, center Dave Bliss is the only regular who gets more than Gaines.
As a team, the Bulldogs are fifth in the SEC in rebounding margin at plus-0.6 per game.
"We'd like to be the best in the country," Felton said. "We'd like that to be one of our strengths."
The Bulldogs get 36 rebounds per game, which is fifth-best in the league, but allow their opponents 35.4 per game, which is 11th-worst in the league.
Gaines learned basketball on the playgrounds of New York City and the experience left him with an aggressive style perfect for rebounding, Felton said.
"He's a lot stronger than most of his opponents at point guard," Bliss said. "So that gives him a big advantage, and he's quick to the ball. Any of those balls that bounce around a lot, he usually comes up with those. He's got a nose for the ball."
The Bulldogs normally don't give Gaines the primary responsibility for transition defense so he can better concentrate on getting to the glass.
"I'm such a good rebounder that (Felton) normally sends the shooting guard back on defense," said Gaines, who is 20th in the SEC in rebounding.
Gaines doesn't give his taller teammates grief about doing their job for them, he said.
"It's just something I've always been doing good all my life," he said. "I just know I have a good knack for where the ball is going to bounce."
G Sundiata Gaines 6-1 5.3 .19
G Billy Humphrey 6-2 3.9 .18
F Younes Idrissi 6-8 3.5 .19
G Levi Stukes 6-2 3.3 .13
C Dave Bliss 6-10 3.2 .20
G Mike Mercer 6-4 2.9 .12
F Terrance Woodbury 6-6 2.9 .17
G Channing Toney 6-4 2.6 .11
C Rashaad Singleton 7-0 2.2 .20
F Steve Newman 6-9 2.1 .14
F Kendrick Johnson 6-9 2.1 .23