Vols, Tigers collide today

FedExForum has been a house of horrors for most visiting teams but the Tennessee Vols won't be intimidated when they drop by for today's tipoff against the Memphis Tigers.

Oddly enough, Tennessee has played two of its best games of the Bruce Pearl era in the venue. An unranked Vol team gave fourth-ranked Memphis fits before bowing 88-79 in January of 2006. And a feisty Vol squad shocked the top-ranked Tigers 66-62 at FedExForum in February of 2008.

Calling the '08 victory "a fond memory," Pearl noted that "We played well in the building the two years we've been there. My first year we went over there and played very well in the building. Memphis was favored by about two touchdowns - maybe more - and it was a single-digit game for most of the game. And, obviously, we played very well over there two years ago.

"I think we've played well in the building."

Interestingly enough, UT's Memphis natives tend to play especially well at FedExForum. Dane Bradshaw led the Vols in points (21), rebounds (12), assists (4) and steals (5) in the 2006 game. J.P. Prince starred in the '08 game, contributing 13 points, 8 rebounds, a block, 2 steals and a pair of game-clinching free throws in the final seconds.

Prince will get another shot at his hometown university today, although he probably won't start.

"As a guy coming off the bench he's averaging 8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals," Pearl noted. "As a starter, he was averaging 2.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1 steal per game. He's playing better off the bench."

The coach also is pleased with Prince's ability to break down a defense.

"I like the way J.P. has been playmaking," Pearl said. "Over the last three games he's had a team-high 13 assists."

Another Vol who has been producing plenty of assists is All-America forward Tyler Smith. In fact, he leads the team with 41. His scoring average of 11.7 is nearly six points off last year's mark but he isn't concerned.

"We're winning," he said. "Right now my numbers may be down a little bit but if we can get Ws I'm fine with that."

NOTES: Both teams bring 9-2 records into today's game, which has a 3 o'clock Central (4 Eastern) tipoff.... Memphis' losses this year were by 57-55 on a neutral floor to Kansas and by 73-72 at UMass.... The Tigers have won 23 consecutive home games.... Memphis beat the Vols 54-52 in Knoxville last season.... Tiger guard Elliot Williams, a transfer from Duke who strongly considered UT as a high school senior in Collierville, scored 27 points Tuesday in leading an 87-67 defeat of IUPUI. He has scored 20 or more nine times in 11 games and averages 20.7 points per game.... Pierre Henderson-Niles, Memphis' 6-8, 278-pound post, scored 15 points vs. IUPUI, including his team's first seven.... Point guard Willie Kemp, a teammate of UT's Wayne Chism at Bolivar Central High School, had 9 points and 9 assists vs. IUPUI..... Wesley Witherspoon, though 6-9, essentially plays guard. He's shooting 43.3 percent from 3.... The Tigers made 11 of 19 shots from 3-point range vs. IUPUI.


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