Who'll score besides Slay?

Senior forward Ron Slay is averaging 24.7 points per game this basketball season, leading both the Tennessee Vols and the Southeastern Conference in scoring. The problem is: Who does the Big Orange have to share the scoring burden if Georgia Tech manages to contain Slay Sunday in the Peach Bowl Classic for Kids?

The fact Slay has led all UT scorers in each of the first three games may suggest that the Vols are a bit one-dimensional. Then again, maybe not.

''I think it's just something that's happened,'' senior guard Jon Higgins said. ''There will be games where other people lead the team in scoring. It just so happened that Ron did it the first three games this year ... similar to what Vincent (Yarbrough) did last year.

''It's not a big thing. As the year goes on, other people will start scoring more and we'll see more people leading the team in scoring.''

Still, Higgins knows Slay can't carry the offensive load all by himself. When asked what his goal for the season is, Higgins replied: ''Just being able to score more. I want to help the team have a better record than we had last year and get back to the Tournament. That's about it.''

Tennessee opened with home victories over Gardner-Webb and VMI, then lost its road opener at Texas A&M. Despite the setback, Higgins thinks that game was beneficial.

''I think it was pretty big,'' he said. ''Texas A&M is a good team and had a good crowd. It was good for our young guys to be exposed to that before we go to Georgia Tech and see how their crowd is. It was good for us to get an away game under our belts. Hopefully, we can build on it.''

Although Georgia Tech is a member of the prestigious ACC -- supposedly the premier league in all of college basketball -- Higgins says that has no bearing on Sunday's game.

''I think it's all just basketball,'' he said. ''It comes down to you executing against the other team. I don't know that much history about ACC schools. This is only the second one we've played since I've been here.''

Higgins knows one thing, though: If the Vols are to get back to the NCAA Tournament following a one-year absence, they need to start posting some quality wins. Sunday's outing would be a good place to start.

''It's a big game -- an NCAA Tournament game,'' he said. ''It's a good team from another big conference, so it'd be good for us to have a win.

''And it's a big game for our record. We'd rather be 3-1 after this weekend than 2-2. There's a big difference there. We know we've got a lot at stake in this game, so we're going to try and play our best.''

Sunday's tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.


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