Beverley on the boards

Tennessee guard Chris Lofton had to be feeling pretty good about getting 7 rebounds in Saturday's game at LSU ... until he found out that an Arkansas guard raked down 13 the same day in the Hogs' defeat of Ole Miss.

Amazing as it sounds, 6-foot-1 Razorback sophomore Patrick Beverley is leading all SEC players with 11 rebounds per game in conference play. He had a 15-rebound game at LSU on Jan. 26, a 13-rebound game vs. Alabama on Jan. 13, 12-rebound games against South Carolina (Jan. 16 and Florida Feb. 2) and a 10-rebound game against Mississippi State (Jan. 30).

"He is a phenomenal athlete – quick, fast, a tremendous jumper," said Vol head coach Bruce Pearl, whose team hosts Beverley and the Razorbacks Wednesday night at 8. "His motor always runs."

Clearly, Lofton and Tennessee's other guards need to put a body on Beverley to keep the high-jumping Hog from cleaning the glass at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"It's real important," Lofton said. "Their guards are so athletic and rebound so well. Our guards are going to have a tough time boxing out their guards and keeping them off the glass. That will be a key for the game."

Lofton, who averages 3.3 rebounds per game, had a zero-rebound game (Jan. 26 vs. Georgia) and a one-rebound game (Feb. 2 at Mississippi State) in the past three weeks. Thus, his seven-rebound effort against LSU was noteworthy.

"Our big men do a great job of boxing out but they can't always get the ball," he explained. "I just made it happen, tried to run in and get the loose balls. Fortunately, I was able to come out with it."

Tennessee's JaJuan Smith might be able to neutralize Beverly. Smith showed surprising skills as a rebounder in 2006-07. The 6-foot-2 senior posted four 8-rebound games last season en route to a 4.5 per-game average. He has not been as active on the boards this season, however, averaging just 3.2 rebounds.

Beverley isn't the only concern for Tennessee, of course. Sonny Weems, a 6-foot-6 senior wing, is averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game since SEC play began.

"Beverley and Sonny Weems are playing great," Pearl noted. "Sonny's averaging over three 3s per game in SEC play, shooting almost 50 percent.

"We recruited Sonny really hard a couple of years ago. You could just tell Sonny has disciplined himself. You can see the hours in the gym written all over that jump shot. He's shooting in with confidence and he's clearly paid the price. Those two guys in the backcourt are very, very good."


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