Tennessee, which has outscored its opponents 81.9 points to 63.6, has lost to Purdue and Southern California and defeated Memphis, Wyoming, North Carolina A&T, Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee State, College of Charleston, DePaul, East Carolina, UNC Asheville, Austin Peay and Charlotte.
“It is a game that could go either way,” Kansas University coach Bill Self said. “They have a lot of talent. We got them last year, and I’m sure this is a sellout, which is 24,000. It will be a good atmosphere and one where we really need to play well away from home to start developing an identity.”
UT vs. No. 1
Tennessee is 1-2 against No. 1-rated teams under fifth-year coach Bruce Pearl. The Volunteers beat Memphis in 2008 and lost to Ohio State and Florida in 2007.
The Vols are 3-10 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. This is the first time UT has played host to a No. 1 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee, 35-2 in nonconference home games under Pearl, has won seven such games in a row. ... UT leads the SEC in assists per game (17.3) and turnover margin (+6.6) while ranking second in the league in three-point percentage defense (28.9), steals (9.6) and assist/turnover ratio (1.28) ... Tennessee is seeking its first home crowd of at least 20,000 this season. Thompson-Boling Arena seats 21,678. .. Pearl is 18-11 vs. ranked teams at UT and 68-6 when the Vols score 80 or more points ... Senior J.P. Prince has drawn a team-high 13 charges. ... UT had a school-record 34 assists against Asheville on Nov. 17.
Last year revisited
Sherron Collins scored 26 points off 7-of-14 shooting and 10-of-14 free throwing and Cole Aldrich contributed 22 points off 10-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds in KU’s victory over UT last year. Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor added 12 points apiece. Wayne Chism scored 17 points, Bobby Maze 14 and Scotty Hopson 11 for the Vols.
“It was a fun one, probably one of the most fun ones to play in the fieldhouse last year,” Aldrich said. “We had a great crowd and played well. Now the tables are turned. We’re at their place. They are starting to play real well. It’ll be another fun game.”
Collins, who was unable to sleep the night before last year’s game until he cell-phoned his brother, Steve, in Chicago for some soothing words, recalled: “It was very crucial. It was our first test of the season. They came in scrappy like they’ve always been.”
Collins believes UT will seek revenge today.
“It’s the largest crowd we’ll play before so far. It’ll be loud,” Collins said. “There will be a lot of orange. We’ve got to be ready.
Former Vols’ player Tyler Smith, who was booted off the team Friday, wanted UT to wear black uniforms today, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Coach Pearl told the paper if Tennessee was going to wear alternate color black, he’d lean toward wearing the color at home.
“When we go on the road, I want people everywhere to see the Big Orange,” Pearl said.
UT has not ordered jerseys in any other colors than orange and white, a UT administrator told the paper.
Tennessee’s Renaldo Woolridge scored 10 points and had seven rebounds while playing 27 minutes against Charlotte on Wednesday. For the year Woolridge averages 9.8 minutes a game.
"We all told Renaldo, there’s no more time for a soft Renaldo,” Chism told the AP after the game.
“We had so much excitement going into the game just sticking together and knowing that this was our opportunity. We all fed off each other,” Woolridge said. "Coach put me in the spot Tyler was in, starting in the 4 position, and I definitely had to step my game up.”