Blue Ribbon tabs UT

Tennessee has been picked by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as the favorite to win the 2008-09 Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title, and the publication tabbed Volunteers junior Tyler Smith as the Preseason SEC Player of the Year.

Blue Ribbon also rated Tennessee's frontcourt as the best in the conference, while the UT backcourt was ranked second-best in the league.

The Vols, led by two-time National Coach of the Year Bruce Pearl, are coming off back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. Last season, Pearl guided Tennessee to a 31-5 overall record, a 14-2 mark in league play and its ninth all-time SEC championship.

Smith, a native of Pulaski, Tenn., was a first-team All-SEC performer as a sophomore last season. He led the Vols in assists (3.4 apg), rebounding (6.7 rpg) and field-goal percentage (.536) while ranking third on the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) behind departed seniors Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.

Pearl, Smith and the rest of the 2008-09 Volunteers open the 100th season of Tennessee basketball Nov. 3, with a home exhibition game against Indianapolis at Thompson-Boling Arena.


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