Guard showdown

Today's Tennessee-Oklahoma State basketball game (6 p.m. EST tip-off on ESPN2) presents some interesting match-ups. The best one will be at point guard, where the Vols' C.J. Watson will square off against the Cowboys' JamesOn Curry.

Watson, who stands 6-2, is averaging 17.0 points and 5.3 assists per game. He's shooting 60.9 percent from 3-point range, best in the Southeastern Conference. He has committed just four turnovers in the last three games and is a key reason the Vols are averaging 88.2 points per game.

Curry, who stands 6-3, is averaging 12.9 points and 5.0 assists per game. He's coming off a 30-point performance against Mercer and he's on the watch list for two of college basketball's premier honors, the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award.

Another intriguing match-up will be at power forward, where Tennessee's Dane Bradshaw will be facing OSU's Mario Boggan.

Bradshaw, who stands 6-3 or 6-4 (depending on who you ask), averages 7.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He will be giving away at least three inches of height and roughly 40 pounds to Boggan, a 6-7, 240-pounder.

Boggan began his college career at Florida, where his playing weight hovered near 300 pounds. Since transferring to Stillwater, he has dropped 50 pounds and become a force around the basket. He's shooting 61.2 percent from the field and averaging 12.9 points per game. He's also averaging 5.4 rebounds per game, with more offensive rebounds (32) than defensive (22).

Like last Saturday's Texas game, Tennessee's showdown with OSU will pit the Vols' outside shooting against the opponent's inside game.

The Vols are shooting a sizzling 44.3 percent from 3-point range as a team. Watson leads the SEC in 3-point accuracy and backcourt mate Chris Lofton leads the league in 3-pointers per game.

The Cowboys out-rebound their foes by an average of 4.9 per game, with almost as many offensive rebounds (145) as their opponents have defensive rebounds (164). In other words, when OSU misses a shot, there's nearly a 50-50 chance the Cowboys will get a second chance. That could be decisive against a UT team that is out-rebounded by an average of 1.8 per game.

Whereas Tennessee has missed the NCAA Tournament four years in a row, Oklahoma State reached the Sweet 16 last year and the Final Four the year before that. Although the Vols and Cowboys have never met in basketball, OSU head coach Eddie Sutton went 6-2 against UT while serving as head coach at Kentucky (1985-89).


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