Belmont gets biblical

Like David of biblical fame, the Belmont Bruins will be facing one of college basketball's Goliaths today. And, like David, the Bruins' hopes will hinge on their ability to do damage from long distance.

Instead of shooting rocks from a slingshot, however, the Bruins will be shooting the rock from 3-point range. Few teams in major college basketball do so as well as Belmont.

The Bruins average 11.6 treys per game, ranking No. 3 nationally in that category. They are hitting 43.1 percent of their 3-point tries, a figure which also ranks No. 3 nationally. Tennessee, by comparison, hits just 33.1 percent.

That means the 16th-ranked Big Orange's 35-game winning streak at Thompson-Boling Arena could be in jeopardy when the Vols (7-2) and Bruins (4-3) tip it up at 3 this afternoon. Another streak that's on the line is Bruce Pearl's 26-0 record vs. non-conference visitors to TBA.

Belmont's hottest long-range bomber is Andy Wicke, a 6-2 senior guard who averages 14.0 points per game. He's 24 of 46 from beyond the arc, a sizzling 52.2 percentage.

Next in terms of trey trouble is Matthew Dotson, a 6-8 senior forward who originally signed with Tennessee in November of 2004 but opted out when Pearl took the Vol reins the following spring. Dotson averages 12.6 points per game and is 20 of 40 from 3-point land, an even 50.0 percent.

Jon House, a 6-6 sophomore forward, shoots rarely but effectively from long range. He has drained 3 of 5 attempts from 3, good for 60.0 percent.

Shane Dansby, a 6-4 senior guard, averages 10.2 points per game and has hit a commendable 36.8 percent (7 of 19) from behind the 3-point line.

The other starter, 6-2, 160-pound Alex Renfroe, looks the part of a 3-point specialist but isn't. He's hitting just 30.8 percent (4 of 13) but, even more surprisingly, leads the Bruins in rebounds at 5.9 per game.

Another oddity: Reserve Drew Hanlon is the Bruins' best 3-point shooter statistically. He's hitting a team-high 66.7 percent after going 6 for 9.

Belmont barely missed springing one of the NCAA Tournament's all-time upsets last March. The Bruins had the ball under Duke's basket in the final seconds of their first-round game, needing two points to win. Their inbounds pass was intercepted, however, allowing the Blue Devils to hang on for a 71-70 triumph.

Tennessee and Belmont have one common opponent this season, Middle Tennessee. The Vols beat the Blue Raiders 76-66 Nov. 21 in Murfreesboro. The Bruins prevailed 82-69 Wednesday night in Nashville.

Today's game will be televised by SportSouth.


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