Towering Tide

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl has a game plan for containing Alabama's imposing post duo of Jermareo Davidson (6-10, 220) and Richard Hendrix (6-8, 265). He just doesn't have the personnel to implement it.

In a variation of the "fight fire with fire" theme, the Vols' head man says the best way to counteract Davidson and Hendrix is to fight size with size.

"Size has bothered Alabama a little bit ... when you make those guys score over you," said Pearl, whose team hosts Bama Wednesday at 8 p.m. "Arkansas beat 'em twice, and Vanderbilt beat 'em."

Arkansas 7-footer Steven Hill was able to neutralize Davidson and Hendrix somewhat. So was Vandy's 6-11 Ted Skuchas.

But Pearl doesn't have a 7-footer. Nor does he have anyone 6-11. Or 6-10, for that matter.

"I thought Arkansas used their size extremely well," the Vol coach noted. "But we don't have that. We can't go at 'em that way."

Tennessee had no success against Bama's post duo in last season's 92-79 loss at Tuscaloosa. Davidson (6 of 12) and Hendrix (5 of 7) paired up to sink 11 of 19 shots, while registering a combined 33 points, 24 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 4 steals. Meanwhile, they limited Tennessee's Major Wingate to 5 points and 5 rebounds.

With an added year of maturity, the Tide tandem is even better this season. Consider:

Hendrix leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (62.1). He ranks third (8.9 per game) and Davidson fifth (8.3) in rebounding. Hendrix is fourth in offensive rebounds (3.12 per game). Davidson ranks third in blocked shots (2.54 per game), Hendrix 12th (1.27). Davidson is fourth in defensive rebounds (6.17), Hendrix seventh (5.77). Hendrix ranks 11th among SEC scorers (15.0 points per game), while Davidson is 13th (14.5).

Obviously, they pose major problems for a Tennessee team whose post game consists primarily of 6-9 freshman Wayne Chism, 6-7 freshman Duke Crews and an undersized senior, 6-4 Dane Bradshaw.

Pearl conceded that the Bama posts compare favorably to Florida's celebrated tandem of Joakim Noah and Al Horford in that "both are capable of scoring and rebounding." The Vol coach noted that Florida "went at Bradshaw," and that he expects the towering Tide to do the same.

Hendrix, only a sophomore, is an especially difficult matchup for Tennessee because of his heft and power.

"When he came out of high school (his options were) North Carolina, Alabama or the NBA," Pearl noted. "He had a good freshman year, and he's having a great sophomore year. He reminds me a lot of Horford, except he's even bigger and stronger.

"He can score over either shoulder. He's patient in the post (second on the team in assists). He's a really good, solid player. He's probably been Alabama's best and most consistent performer this year."


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