Zags Take on Vols
Tennessee's J.P. Prince is finally getting a chance to play, and he's making the most of it.
Prince will be trying to lead the 11th-ranked Volunteers to their seventh straight win Saturday when they travel to Seattle to face Gonzaga in their final game before their Southeastern Conference schedule begins.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Gonzaga -1point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Tennessee +1 (View College Basketball bet percentages).
Prince played in just three games at Arizona last season before deciding to transfer to Tennessee (11-1). He was required by NCAA rules to sit out the first semester, but scored eight points in his debut Dec. 15 against Western Kentucky.
He scored a career-high 13 points against UNC Asheville four days later, and surpassed that with 23 points in last Saturday's 82-75 win at Xavier. Those two performances earned him SEC Player of the Week honors.
"The world doesn't know what I can do, but the coaches and my teammates see it in practice," Prince said Saturday. "They know I can have days like this."
Prince went 9-of-14 against the Musketeers, taking advantage of a defense geared to prevent Tennessee's 3-point attack. He is shooting 60.7 percent in his three games and fits in well with the Volunteers' up-tempo offense.
"In the open floor, we just feel that nobody can control us in transition," he said. "We just score, as long as we hit our shots, Chris (Lofton) hitting his. And I'm going to get my easy dunks and layups."
Lofton leads the Volunteers with 14.8 points per game and owns the school record with 350 career 3-pointers - 16 shy of the all-time SEC mark Pat Bradley set at Arkansas from 1995-99. The Volunteers lead the country averaging 21.0 assists and are fourth in scoring at 87.8 points per game.
The Volunteers, who open SEC play on Jan. 9 at home against No. 22 Mississippi, are trying for their first 12-1 start since 2000-01. However, they'll have to get past a Gonzaga defense that leads the West Coast Conference in limiting opponents to 61.6 points per game.
The Bulldogs (9-3) fell out of the top 25 from No. 18 following their 72-68 loss to Oklahoma on Dec. 20. Jeremy Pargo, who leads the team with 12.8 points per game, scored a career-high 28 but missed on two chances to tie the game in the closing seconds.
"I never worry about him in a big game like this. He's got a big heart and a lot of confidence and he's fearless," Bulldogs coach Mark Few said of Pargo. "Usually the bigger the game, the better he is. I just wish he had some company."
Josh Heytvelt, who had surgery in November to fix a stress fracture in his right ankle, made his first appearance of the season after missing the first 11 games. However, Heytvelt, who was suspended the final nine games of last season for drug possession, had just five points in 15 minutes off the bench.
"He really, really wanted to play. I was kind of wanting him to get some more time in so he wouldn't have to go through a struggling performance like this his first game back," Few said. "His foot's safe. It's definitely safe. It's just a matter of getting him in game shape."
Matt Bouldin returned to the lineup after missing the previous game with an ankle injury but had only five points in 26 minutes.
The Bulldogs are facing the Volunteers for the first time.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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