Guarded optimism

In the spirit of the season, opposing guards have been lighting up Tennessee like a Christmas tree in recent weeks. That trend should end tonight against Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns.

The Cajuns' best guard, Travis Bureau, will miss the game due to a groin injury. The 6-7, 180-pound sophomore is averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting 53.5 percent from the floor and a sizzling 46.9 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Bureau's absence is a tremendous lift for a Tennessee team whose perimeter defense has been shredded like cabbage in recent weeks.

Temple's Dionte Christmas torched the Vols for 35 points in an 88-72 Owl win on Dec. 13. Marquette's Wesley Matthews burned Tennessee for 30 points in an 80-68 loss on Dec. 16, then Belmont's Alex Renfroe hit the same figure in a 79-77 setback on Dec. 20.

While the Ragin' Cajuns (4-6) will be without one of their best players due to injury, the 16th-ranked Vols (8-2) will be welcoming back one of their best players from injury. Junior wing J.P. Prince is scheduled to play tonight after missing the previous three games with a sprained ankle.

Tennessee beat Louisiana 98-70 last season but this time will be different. That's because UT's top four scorers in last year's game – Jordan Howell (17), JaJuan Smith (15), Ramar Smith (14) and Duke Crews (10) – are no longer with the program.

With Bureau sidelined, Louisiana will need a big game from point guard Ryan McCoy. The 6-0, 175-pound junior college transfer scored a career-high 21 points in the Cajuns' recent 56-54 loss to Sam Houston State. Over the last four games McCoy has averaged 13.3 points and 4.0 assists per game, while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. He is 6 of 11 from 3-point range during that stretch.

Tipoff for tonight's game is 7:30. There is no television coverage. The Vols will be looking to extend their 36-game home winning streak, longest in program history and third-longest in the NCAA at present.


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