Vols hope to keep Hogs misfiring

It's too bad Hollywood already made a movie called "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight." That title applies awfully well to the Arkansas basketball team that hosts Tennessee tonight (8 p.m. EST tipoff) at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

Counting league games only, Arkansas ranks dead last among the 12 Southeastern Conference teams in field goal percentage (37.1), 10th in free throw percentage (65.9) and eighth in 3-point percentage (32.7).

As a result of their poor marksmanship, the Razorbacks also rank dead last among SEC schools in league-play scoring (60 points per game) and scoring margin (minus 10.4 per game). No wonder they're 7-12 overall and 2-6 in SEC play.

For Tennessee (13-6, 5-3) to extend its four-game winning streak and further enhance its NCAA Tournament hopes, the Vols will need to keep Arkansas shooting poorly. The key in this endeavor might be senior guard Thaydeus Holden.

The Razorbacks get most of their points from their freshman backcourt of Jonathon Modica (12 points per game) and Eric Ferguson (11.4 ppg). Senior frontliners Carl Baker (3.8 ppg), Dionisio Gomez (8.6 ppg) and Alonzo Lane (5.2 ppg) combine to score just 17.6 points per game. Holden will spend most of the evening guarding Modica but occasionally will be entrusted with keeping Ferguson at bay. His effectiveness will play a key role in the game's outcome.

''Thaydeus has always been a pretty tough defender,'' Vol head man Buzz Peterson said. ''I believe in toughness on the defensive end, and Thaydeus gives you that toughness.''

The pesky Holden was at his toughest last Saturday against Georgia, limiting Bulldog superstar Ezra Williams to 3-of-12 shooting from the field.

''Ezra Williams knew that Thaydeus was there every time,'' Peterson said. ''He's a warrior, and he's a guy I like having on our squad because he brings that tough attitude we need to have on defense.''

Though known as a defensive stopper, Holden turned offensive long enough to score 15 points in the Vols' 78-72 upset of Georgia. Over the last three games, he has nailed 11 of 19 field goal tries, including 8 of 13 from beyond the 3-point arc.

''What he's done here lately is what any coach hopes his seniors do -- step up on the offensive end and hit some big shots for you,'' Peterson said. ''Thaydeus is doing a tremendous job for us.''

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