North Carolina A&T (4-7) at (16) Tennessee (8-2)
Wednesday, December 23rd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thompson-Boling Arena (24,535) -- Knoxville, Tennessee. Television: CSS. Home Record: NC A&T 3-0, Tennessee 5-0. Away Record: NC A&T 1-7, Tennessee 0-1. Neutral Record: NC A&T 0-0, Tennessee 3-1. Conference Record: NC A&T 1-0, Tennessee 0-0. Series Record: Tennessee leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In what appears to be a major mismatch, the 16th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers welcome the North Carolina A&T Aggies to Knoxville.
North Carolina A&T has lost its last two games and five of the last six to fall to 4-7 overall this season. On Monday, the club was simply no match for Miami-Florida in an 80-59 beat down. The Aggies are members of the MEAC and are 1-0 thus far in that league.
Tennessee is undoubtedly eager to get back to action after an embarrassing 77-55 loss to USC on the road this past weekend. The Vols entered that tilt with an 8-1 record, and considering that the only other loss came against national power Purdue by one point, the lopsided result against the Trojans was completely unexpected. Bruce Pearl's Tennessee squad competes in the SEC and is expected to contend with Kentucky for the conference crown. Clearly, however, some lost confidence may have to be restored.
The Vols won the only previous meeting with North Carolina A&T.
The Aggies are not a deep team by any means, as there are only five players scoring more than 5.1 ppg. Fortunately, four of those individuals are averaging double figures, and Dwane Joshua leads the pack with 16.0 ppg. Tavarus Alston provides 14.8 ppg, and he is handing out 3.9 apg. Robert Johnson is netting 11.3 ppg, and Nic Simpson adds 10.6 ppg. In the 21-point loss to Miami earlier this week, the Aggies connected on only 36.4 percent of their field goal attempts and turned the ball over 17 times. They were outrebounded by a 45-35 margin as well. Joshua scored 14 points off the bench, while Alston netted 13 points to go along with a staggering total of nine turnovers.
Tennessee is generating 81.2 ppg on 48.9 percent shooting from the field this season, and the squad is holding opponents to 61.9 ppg on 39.3 percent shooting. The Vols are led by Scotty Hopson, who is averaging 14.1 ppg. Tyler Smith is netting a rather disappointing 11.3 ppg while pulling down only 4.5 rpg, numbers far off what he is capable of. Wayne Chism has also underachieved, as his 11.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg won't scare anyone. Hopson scored 16 points for the Vols in the ugly loss to USC, and Melvin Goins added 10 points off the bench. Smith was limited to three points, as Tennessee shot just 34.5 percent from the floor, including a horrendous 2-of-22 showing from three-point range. Defensively, the club permitted the Trojans to connect on 56.1 percent of their total shots.
The Vols will take out their disappointment on the Aggies tonight in what figures to be a rout.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 89, North Carolina A&T 60
12/23 10:36:38 ET