Vols, Pitt collide today

Great matchups make for great games. That's why today's 3:15 tip-off between No. 11 Tennessee (6-0) and No. 3 Pitt (10-0) in the Big East/SEC Challenge at Pittsburgh promises to be a great game.

"There are great matchups in the game," Vol head man Bruce Pearl conceded. "How do Melvin Goins and Trae Golden match up with (Ashton) Gibbs? How does Scotty (Hopson) match up with (Brad) Wanamaker? How does Cameron (Tatum) match up with Gilbert Brown?"

Here's how they match up statistically at least:

The 5-11 Goins averages 7.0 points and 3.0 assists per game, shooting 36.0 percent from 3. The 6-1 Golden chips in 5.8 points and 2.7 assists per game, shooting 14.3 percent from 3. The 6-2 Gibbs leads Pitt in scoring (17.4 points per game) and 3-point shooting (45.8 percent). He averages 3.0 assists per game but that ranks fourth among the Panthers.

The 6-7 Hopson averages 16.3 points per game for the Vols, shooting 33.3 percent from 3. He has twice as many turnovers (19) as assists (9). Pitt's 6-4 Wanamaker averages 12.8 points per game, shoots 35.3 percent from 3 and leads the Panthers in both assists (57) and steals (15).

The 6-6 Tatum averages 11.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Vols, shooting 36.0 percent from 3. The 6-6 Brown averages 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Panthers, shooting 29.7 percent from 3.

Another interesting matchup will occur in the low post.

"Gary McGhee is 6-11 and 250, and Brian (Williams) is 6-10 and 265, so that's going to be a heavyweight matchup, for sure," Pearl said. "It's going to be interesting to see those two Goliaths go at each other."

Like Williams, McGhee is more productive on defense than offense. He averages just 5.8 points per game but leads Pitt in rebounding at 6.6 per game. Williams averages 6.3 points and 8.0 rebounds for the Vols.

"This is a great game of matchups," Pearl said. "I don't know where we have the advantage. We certainly don't have it in the coaching box."

The Vol coach wasn't just showcasing his knack for self-deprecating humor. Pitt's Jamie Dixon has an incredible coaching record of 198-54. To put that in perspective, consider this: Pearl (132-46) would have to go 66-8 in his next 74 games to match Dixon's winning percentage.

Beating the No. 3 team in the country in its home city is expecting a lot. That's why few people outside of the UT locker room are expecting the Vols to prevail today. Still, Pearl makes clear that this is not a win/win situation for the Big Orange.

"It won't be a win/win at all if we go out there and don't play well," he said. "If we don't defend well, get pushed around - which Pittsburgh is capable of doing - or get disrupted and turn the ball over too much or take too many bad shots. I don't care if we're playing the Boston Celtics."


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