Vols face 2 Tennesseans

Three Tennesseans will be starting Wednesday night's Tennessee-Florida basketball game but two of them will be wearing Gator uniforms. Curious as it sounds, Florida's first five features more guys from the Volunteer State than Tennessee's first five.

Corey Brewer, a 6-8 freshman forward from Portland, is averaging 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for Florida. Lee Humphrey, a 6-2 sophomore guard from Maryville, is averaging 6.4 points and 1.4 assists per game.

The Vols, meanwhile, start just one Tennessean. That would be guard Scooter McFadgon, a Memphis native who averages 15.8 points per game.

When UT head man Buzz Peterson elected to accept McFadgon as a transfer from the University of Memphis two years ago, he had no scholarship left to offer Humphrey. Though he had been a lifelong Vol fan, the unheralded Humphrey opted for a Florida scholarship rather than a walk-on role at UT.

Conversely, Brewer was a high-profile national recruit who felt no special allegiance to the Vols growing up in West Tennessee. So, when the time came to pick a college, he chose the program with the brighter future and the scheme that was best suited to his skills. Oddly enough, Peterson may have been willing to change Tennessee's scheme to accomodate a player of Brewer's talents.

''In recruiting, you don't get the guy you want too much,'' Peterson said. ''I've always liked Corey Brewer. I thought he was an excellent ball player. I liked his attitude, his personality, his range. He's long (and long-armed), so he can cause some problems in the passing lanes. If we had him here right now our defensive philosophy might change a little bit.''

Whereas Peterson gave Humphrey little more than a token glance, he pursued Brewer with tremendous interest ... only to come up short.

''It just didn't work out,'' the Vol coach said. ''But he's going to be a very good ball player for them (Gators).''

Humphrey started 11 games as a true freshman, including Florida's final 10 of 2003-04. He responded by hitting 47.2 percent of his field-goal tries and 43.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Although he has slipped to 40.5 and 37.0 in those categories this season, he remains a dangerous weapon from the perimeter. After scoring just 46 points in the Gators' first 10 games (4.6 ppg), he has started the past four games and scored 43 points (10.8 ppg). His best outing was a 15-point effort against Florida State on Jan. 2.

''Lee Humphrey is a very good shooter,'' Peterson said. ''He's really stepped it up of late since (Matt) Walsh has been out of the lineup.''

It's a safe bet Humphrey and Brewer will have a little added incentive when they face their homestate university Wednesday night in Gainesville.

''I'm sure those guys get fired up when they play Tennessee,'' Peterson said, ''so we've got to make sure we do a good job on them, treat them just like anybody else on their ballclub.''

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