Vols host talented Tigers

The Memphis squad that beat Tennessee 88-79 last January at the FedEx Forum may have been the most athletic team UT faced all season. Still, the Tigers may showcase even more quality athletes when the teams collide tonight in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"They were really athletic last year," Vol guard Chris Lofton recalls. "They had some great athletes, and I think they're deeper this year. I hear they're playing 10 or 11 guys."

The Big Orange is deeper this year, too. Nine players average at least 15 minutes per game.

Like Tennessee, Memphis is a very young team. The Tigers start one junior (6-9 Joey Dorsey), three sophomores (6-9 Robert Dozier, 6-6 Antonio Anderson, 6-6 Chris Douglas-Roberts) and one freshman (6-2 Willie Kemp).

Douglas-Roberts averages a team-high 14.8 points per game. Dozier chips in 12.2, Anderson 11.3, Dorsey 9.0 and Kemp 8.8. Dorsey averages 8.3 rebounds per game and Dozier 7.3. Anderson (3.7) and Kemp (2.3) are tops in assists.

Tennessee will answer with a lineup that features one senior (6-4 Dane Bradshaw), three juniors (6-3 Jordan Howell, 6-2 Chris Lofton, 6-2 JaJuan Smith) and one freshman (6-7 Duke Crews). The top three reserves also are freshmen – 6-9 Wayne Chism, 6-2 Ramar Smith and 6-4 Josh Tabb.

Lofton leads UT's scoring at 18.6 points per game, while JaJuan Smith checks in at 13.6. Crews averages 9.4, Bradshaw 7.4 and Howell 2.7. Chism is the leading rebounder at 6.6 per game. Bradshaw leads in assists with 4.6 per outing.

Tonight's tipoff is set for 9 o'clock with ESPN2 providing television coverage.

The unranked Vols (6-2) and the 14th-ranked Tigers (6-1) have one common opponent; each opened exhibition play against LeMoyne-Owen. Tennessee mauled the Magicians 126-66, while Memphis prevailed by a 113-63 score.

The Tigers have one quality win to date, having knocked off Kentucky 80-63 Nov. 22 in the Maui Invitational. Tennessee will be looking for its first quality win tonight.

As Lofton noted: "That's why we've GOT to be ready for this game."

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