Contrasting styles

After five games at home and four on neutral floors, Tennessee plays its first true road basketball game of 2009-10 at 1:30 Pacific (4:30 Eastern) this afternoon against Southern Cal.

It may feel more like an exhibition game than a road game, however. The Trojans are averaging just 3,280 fans per game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, whereas Tennessee is averaging 17,625 fans per game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Some players are energized by noise, even the boos and jeers of hostile fans. If today's crowd follows the pattern of USC's first six home games, however, the squeak of sneakers on the court may drown out the fans.

At least one Vol isn't worried, however.

"You've got to bring your own energy," senior post Wayne Chism said. "If you come out playing good and keep your own energy, your whole team is going to follow you and everybody's going to keep clicking. We've just got to keep confidence, keep our heads high and go out and get a road win."

The ninth-ranked Vols (8-1) and unranked Trojans (4-4) could scarcely be more polar opposites. Tennessee loves to run, which is why it averages 84.1 points per game. USC prefers a snail's pace, which is why it averages 58.9 points per game.

The Vols are a hot-shooting team that is hitting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. USC is a struggling offensive team that shoots 42.8 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from 3.

Southern Cal offsets its scoring problems by being a beast on the backboards. The Trojans outrebound their foes by an average of 7.8 per game (38.4 to 30.6). By comparison, Tennessee outrebounds its foes by 4.6 per game (37.1 to 32.6).

Southern Cal, coached by former UT head man Kevin O'Neill, starts a lineup of 6-10, 240-pound Nikola Vucevic, 6-9, 235-pound Alex Stepheson, 6-6, 210-pound Marcus Johnson, 6-5, 215-pound Dwight Lewis and 5-11, 180-pound Donte Smith.

Vucevic leads in scoring (13.6 points per game) and rebounding (10.8 per game). Stephenson is second in each category, averaging 12.5 points and 9.8 rebounds. Lewis averages 12.4 points per game, Johnson 9.3 and Smith 7.4.

Tennessee is expected to go with its recent lineup of the 6-9 Chism, 6-7 Tyler Smith, 6-7 Scotty Hopson, 6-6 Cameron Tatum and 6-3 Bobby Maze.

The Vols are riding a four-game winning streak which has seen them prevail by an average of 19.75 points per contest. It should be interesting to see how they respond to their first true road game, however.

"When you're on the road you've got to set your own energy," Chism said, "because you're playing against three refs, 15 players and 20,000 people."

Odds are, the crowd today will fall about 15,000 short of 20,000.

NOTES: Tennessee leads the all-time series with Southern Cal 4-1, with its lone loss being an 81-76 overtime setback at Knoxville in 1986.... Vol sophomore Renaldo Woolridge played his high school ball at Harvard-Westlake, which is located just 17 miles from the Galen Center.... Senior guard Mike Gerrity has been granted a progress-towards-degree waiver by the NCAA and will be eligible today after missing USC's first eight games. He is a transfer from Charlotte, where he averaged 4.7 points per game in 2007-08.... The game will be televised by Fox SportsNet.

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