Hoop Vols host LeMoyne-Owen

Tennessee's opponent in tonight's exhibition basketball opener, LeMoyne-Owen, is known as the Magicians. But Vol coach Bruce Pearl is looking to perform a trick of his own – transforming six rookies into dependable players.

With just five proven returnees on the roster – 2005-06 starters Chris Lofton and Dane Bradshaw, plus reserves JaJuan Smith, Jordan Howell and Ryan ChildressTennessee will rely heavily on transfer Tony Passley, plus freshmen Wayne Chism, Duke Crews, Marques Johnson, Ramar Smith and Josh Tabb.

Passley played junior college ball in 2004-05 and practiced with the Vols last season. Still, tonight will be his first time to suit up for an NCAA Div. 1 game ... as is the case for the five freshmen.

The six Vol newcomers will debut against a LeMoyne-Owen team that should provide only modest opposition. The Div. II Magicians, coached by former Harlem Globetrotter David "Smokey" Gaines, went 10-18 last season.

LeMoyne-Owen struggled offensively in 2005-06, shooting just 42.5 percent from the field, 60.5 percent from the foul line and 31 percent from 3-point range. The Magicians may have more firepower this year, thanks to the addition of 24-year-old freshman Taurean Moy.

As a senior at Memphis' Booker T. Washington High in 2000, Moy hit a national record 24 of 44 shots from 3-point range en route to an 83-point outburst vs. Manassas. He is belatedly launching his college career after serving three years in prison on a charge of attempted sexual assault.

Pearl has not announced a lineup for tonight's exhibition but the Vols are expected to go with 6-9 Chism at center, 6-4 Bradshaw at power forward, 6-2 JaJuan Smith and 6-2 Lofton at the wings, with 6-5 Johnson at the point. Ramar Smith, who is competing with Johnson for the point job, will start Exhibition No. 2 Friday night against Tusculum.

Crews (6-8) and Childress (6-9) are expected to see considerable action on the inside. Passley and Tabb are the top reserves at the wing positions. Howell, the only experienced point guard, will not play tonight. He remains sidelined by a fractured finger.

Tipoff is set for 7:30 at Thompson-Boling Arena, which begins Year 20 tonight. The Vols have a 213-86 record in the structure, which opened Dec. 3, 1987.


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