Music man in Music City

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With high-definition headphones pounding a high-volume tune into his brain, Quinton Chievous caught a pass from a student manager prior to a recent Tennessee basketball practice and launched a 3-point shot from the left baseline at Pratt Pavilion. Swish.

Then he did it again. And again. And again. And again.

After making five baskets in a row, he missed one, then started a new streak. Alternately firing from the left baseline, left wing, right wing and right baseline, the 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman drained probably two-thirds of the 3-pointers he attempted during the 30-minute shooting session. A check of the stat sheet, however, reveals that Chievous is 1 for 10 from beyond the arc in game action this season.

What gives?

"It's a lot different when you've got 20,000 watching you," Chievous explained, "and more people watching you on TV."

That's interesting, since the noise of those 20,000 falls well short of the decibel level generated by the musical mayhem emanating from his high-tech headphones.

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"It's some loud headphones; I like loud music," Chievous admitted, grinning sheepishly. "I like R&B and gospel while I shoot. It helps a lot. It keeps me focused and locked in. It's fun to shoot listening to music."

He should feel right at home tonight then, when Tennessee faces Vanderbilt — appropriately enough — in Music City. Maybe he can create some music of his own ... string music. He earned that chance with a strong performance last Sunday at South Carolina.

After playing in 10 of the Vols' first 12 games this season, Chievous squirmed on the bench for nine games in a row. Head coach Cuonzo Martin finally gave him a chance to prove himself at Columbia.

"It's hard when a guy continues to work hard," Martin said. "You have to reward them at some point. I just thought it was time."

Chievous made the most of the opportunity. Playing 11 relief minutes against South Carolina, he hit 2 of 2 field-goal attempts and finished with 4 points, a rebound and a steal. He also did some quality defensive work on Michael Carrera, the Gamecocks' best player, in helping Tennessee win 66-61.

After such a long period of inactivity, contributing again was understandably rewarding.

"It felt good," Chievous conceded, "but I was just happy we got the win. That road win was real big, and I think it's going to give us a boost going into the rest of our games."

Asked why the Vols won that road game after losing their previous six, he replied: "I think we just played tougher. We just really grinded and worked together as a team to get the win.

Chievous knows all about grinding through adversity. Going nine consecutive games without getting so much as a token minute would test any player's resolve. Instead of complaining, Chievous threw himself into his work.

"I got through it by just staying in the gym, keeping faith and staying positive," he said. "I just prayed to God to be ready when my opportunity came, and I feel like I did that."

In addition to his Heavenly Father, Chievous got some help from his earthly father, former NBA player Derrick Chievous.

"He just told me that when adversity hits always be ready, stay positive and keep faith," Quinton recalled. "He said whenever my time came to be ready. I feel like I was."

After redshirting as a freshman in 2011-12, Chievous expected to play significant minutes in 2012-13. When that didn't happen most players would go to the head coach and demand to know why. This player didn't.

"Not really," Chievous said. "I just kept working and doing what I was supposed to do. I left that (playing time) in the coaches' hands and trusted them that when it was my time to play it was my time to play."

Chievous gave the Vols a noticeable lift in the South Carolina game. His energetic approach to the game appeared to be infectious.

"My role is just playing hard and doing whatever the team needs to win," he said, "whether it's making a jump shot, getting a loose ball, a rebound or a steal."

Incredibly, he fouled out against South Carolina in just 11 minutes of court time. That was a somewhat amazing feat.

"I don't think I ever fouled out of a game before," he said. "Stuff happens."

Asked if the fouls were a testament to his toughness and aggressiveness, Chievous shrugged.

"I think I'm tough but I don't think fouling out proves you're tough," he said. "I feel like a couple of those calls went the wrong way but toughness is something I need to bring to the team."

The Vols also need Chievous to bring the 3-point prowess he exhibits in practice. That hasn't happened to date but there may be a solution: Perhaps he can get a waiver allowing him to wear his headphones during games.

GAME NOTES: Tennessee brings a 12-10 overall record and a 4-6 SEC mark into tonight's game. Vanderbilt is 9-13 and 3-7.... Tennessee won the earlier meeting Jan. 29 in Knoxville, 58-57. The Commodores missed two potential game-winning shots in the last three seconds — a four-footer and a putback attempt.... Vandy's best player is 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Kedron Johnson, who leads the Dores in scoring (14.2 points per game), assists (73) and steals (29). He is the son of Curtis Johnson, who lettered as an outfielder for the Vol baseball team in 1982 and '83.... Vanderbilt head man Kevin Stallings is 12-16 against Tennessee. Martin is 2-1 against Vanderbilt.... The Commodores are coming off a 67-49 home-floor blitz of Arkansas.... Tennessee leads the all-time series 112-70 but Vanderbilt is 52-37 when playing the Big Orange in Nashville.... The Vols were humiliated in last season's visit to Music City, shooting 35.3 percent from the field and 10.0 percent from 3 in a 65-47 beat-down.... Tonight's tipoff is set for 7 Central (8 Eastern) with television coverage provided by the SEC Network.

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