New York City, N.Y. - Madison Square Garden
4:30 p.m., ESPN
Key Contributors: All-America candidate Chris Lofton leads two Vols in double figure scoring on the season. Lofton is averaging 16.0 points per game. One of the top sixth-men in the SEC last year, JaJuan Smith is second on the team with 14.0 points while adding 5.0 rebounds per game.
Tennessee in the NIT: The Vols are making their second appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off and have advanced to the semifinals for the first time ... The Vols first appeared in the preseason tournament in November 1992 when they earned an 87-79 win at Rutgers (11/19/92) before falling 64-72 at Seton Hall (11/21/92).
UNC-UT: The Last Time: North Carolina raced out to a 20-point halftime lead and then held on to a 94-81 win in the semifinals of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Nov. 23, 2004 ... Rashad McCants led the Tar Heels with 27 points while Jawad Williams added 21 points ... North Carolina shot 65.4 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 58.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range ... Tennessee struggled from the field in the opening half, shooting 36.7 percent, but made half of its shots in the second half to finish the game with a 43.5 shooting percentage ... Lofton, playing in just his second collegiate game, scored 22 points on 6-of-10 3-point shooting against the 11th-ranked Tar Heels ... Scooter McFadgon made 9-of-9 free throws and added 16 points ... C.J. Watson had 14 points to go with seven assists ... UNC went on to win the national championship that season.
Vols Deep Too: Tennessee's bench has played a key role in the Vols' success early this season ... Through five games, UT's bench is averaging 29.2 points per game ... Two times this season the bench has contributed at least 40 points in a game ... Ryan Childress is giving the Vols 8.8 points per game coming off the bench ... Last year UT got 21.0 points per game from its bench ... Part of the reason for the production off the bench is that UT has eleven players who play at least 10 minutes per game and no one averages more than 28 minutes ... Following is a breakdown of UT's bench scoring.
Big Little Men: Much has been made about Tennessee's lack of size this year ... Who can blame them when the Vols' starting lineup lists just one player taller than 6-foot-4, and that player is only 6-7 ... That hasn't stopped the Vols from crashing the boards ... UT has outrebounded each of its first five opponents and owns a +9.2 rebounding advantage so far ... Freshman center Wayne Chism leads the Vols 6.2 rebounds per game and senior guard Dane Bradshaw is adding 5.0 boards ... The Vols are averaging 14.4 offensive rebounds per game.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series 7-1 and owns a 4-0 advantage when playing at neutral sites ... The last time Tennessee and North Carolina met was in the second round of the 2004 Maui Invitational when the 11th-ranked Tar Heels took a 94-81 win ... UNC won the first five meetings between the schools until an 84-56 UT win Jan. 31, 1949 in Knoxville ... Tennessee and North Carolina were both members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) that later reorganized into the Southern Conference ... UT left the Southern Conference before the 1932-33 season to join the Southeastern Conference while North Carolina was a member of the SoCon through the 1953 campaign.
Background Location: Knoxville, Tenn. Conference: Southeastern Nickname: Volunteers or Vols Colors: Orange and White Head Coach: Bruce Pearl Record at UT 26-9 (2nd year) Last Year: 23-8
Projected Starters: 23 Dane Bradshaw (6-4, 205, Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg 12 Duke Crews (6-7, 233, Fr.) – 9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg 2 JaJuan Smith (6-2, 196, Jr.) – 14.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg 5 Chris Lofton (6-2, 200, Jr.) - 16.0 ppg 12 Ramar Smith (6-2, 185, Fr.) – 3.8 ppg, 2.6 apg
Notes courtesy UT Athletics