Tony on the spot
Tony Jones

Posted Jan 15, 2011


Tennessee fans are wondering: Will Tony Jones be wearing an orange blazer - a la Ray Mears and Bruce Pearl - at the start of today's game with Vanderbilt?

Here's a much bigger question: Will Jones be wearing a smile at the conclusion of today's game?

Tennessee's associate head coach stands 0-2 filling in as bench coach for Pearl, who is suspended for the Vols' first eight SEC games. Since the Big Orange (10-6 overall, 0-2 in conference play) already dropped a league home game to Florida, another home loss today could be disastrous.

Simply put, Jones has his work cut out for him. The Commodores swept Tennessee last season - winning 85-76 in Knoxville, 90-71 in Nashville - and are playing better basketball than the Big Orange this season. They stand 12-3 overall and 1-1 in SEC play, with the league loss being an overtime affair at South Carolina last weekend.

In addition, the Dores are a matchup nightmare for Tennessee.

Consider:

- Vandy ranks second among the 12 SEC teams in 3-point shooting at 37.5 percent. Tennessee ranks 11th among SEC teams in 3-point defense, allowing foes to shoot 34.7 percent.

- The Commodores boast the SEC's premier perimeter scorer in John Jenkins. The 6-4 guard averaged 42.3 points per game as a senior at Hendersonville's Station Camp High School, then was voted SEC Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman in 2009-10 after averaging 11.0 points per game and hitting a sizzling 48.3 percent from 3-point range. Jenkins has cooled a bit this season but he's still hitting 40.2 percent from beyond the arc and leading the league in treys (3.2 per game). He also ranks second among SEC players in free-throw percentage (89.0) and fourth in scoring (18.4 points per game).

- Vanderbilt ranks second among SEC teams in scoring at 78.6 points per game, whereas Tennessee ranks dead last in scoring defense by allowing 70.0 points per game.

- The Commodores rank second among SEC teams in field-goal defense (38.4 percent) and 3-point defense (28.8 percent). Tennessee's recent offensive woes have been too well-chronicled to warrant recapping here.

NOTES: Vandy's Brad Tinsley leads the SEC in assists at 4.8 per game. The 6-3 junior also averages 9.5 points per game. Expected to join Tinsley and Jenkins in the Commodore lineup are 6-11, 255-pound Festus Ezeli (12.9 points, 6.7 rebounds per game), 6-8, 225-pound Lance Goulbourne (8.5 points, 7.4 rebounds) and 6-7, 225-pound Jeffery Taylor (14.5 points).... Taylor killed the Vols in last year's meeting at Music City, scoring 26 points.... John Fields is expected to be Tennessee's starting center for the second game in a row. Brian Williams started the first 15 games before opening Game 16 vs. Florida on the bench.... Vanderbilt shot 56.7 percent in the second half of last year's meeting at Knoxville and finished at 50.9 percent for the game. The Dores outscored the Vols 54-41 in the final 20 minutes of that game.... Today's game will be televised by ESPN.... The outcome of the eight games Tennessee plays during Pearl's suspension will be credited to Pearl's won/lost record.


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