Wakeup call No. 1 arrived in the exhibition finale, when the Vols suffered a stunning 79-64 home-floor loss to Div. II Indianapolis. A fired-up Tennessee team vented its frustration four days later by hammering Chattanooga 82-62 in the regular-season opener.
Wakeup call no. 2 arrived Tuesday, when an undefeated and seventh-ranked Vol squad suffered an embarrassing 89-82 home-floor loss to the unranked Oakland Golden Grizzlies, who entered play with a 5-5 record. Whether the Vols come out smoking tonight - as they did following their previous upset loss - remains to be seen. After two wakeup calls, however, they at least should be alert.
Being alert would represent an upgrade over their performance vs. Oakland. The Vols led by 13 points (61-48) with 16 minutes left and by eight (76-68) with 7 minutes remaining. The Big Orange fell asleep at this point, however, enabling the Grizzlies to make a 13-0 run that produced an 81-76 lead and, ultimately, victory.
Tennessee (7-1) should be able to bounce back tonight. Charlotte has a 4-6 record and is without leading scorer Shamari Spears, who was dismissed from the team four games ago.
Minus Spears, the 49ers' top scoring threats are guards Jamar Briscoe (14.8 points per game) and Derrio Green (12.3 ppg). Each averages 4.0 assists per game. Briscoe stands 5-feet-10, Green 6-feet-2.
Center Chris Braswell, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound sophomore, is the third-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game. He also leads in rebounding at 6.7 per game.
Rounding out Charlotte's starting five are 6-foot-6, 200-pound Javarris Barnett (4.8 points per game) and a guy with the greatest name in college hoops - 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior An'Juan Wilderness. Every time he's fouled on a basket An'Juan shoots an and-one. You gotta love it.
Tennessee's top priority tonight will be to put together two good halves. Against Oakland, the Vols scored a season-high 50 points in the first half but allowed a season-high 50 points in the second half.
CBS College Sports Network will televise tonight's action.
NOTES: Jeronne Maymon, a 6-7, 258-pound power forward, will be eligible to play for the Vols tonight after sitting out a transfer year following his departure from Marquette.... Charlotte's 70-63 defeat of Tennessee in Round 1 of the 2001 NCAA Tournament was the last straw for Jerry Green, who was fired as the Vols' coach days later.... Tennessee returns to the home hardwood Tuesday night to face Southern Cal, coached by another former Vol head man, Kevin O'Neill.