February, 27, 2010
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Here are some pregame storylines from Kentucky-Tennessee:
- Kentucky coach John Calipari said winning an SEC title would mean "nothing," preferring to point toward the NCAA tournament. But Kentucky fans are aware a victory today over the rival Volunteers would clinch a share of the school's 44th league title. For all its domination of the league, Kentucky hasn't won an outright SEC title since 2005.
- Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said in Saturday's Knoxville News-Sentinel, "We could have a good year without beating Kentucky, but we can't have a great year without beating Kentucky." So far this year, the Vols are 0-1 in that department. Last year they were 0-2. Last time they beat the Wildcats, they were ranked No. 1 and Kentucky was unranked, in 2008.
- If Tennessee is going to win, it likely will need a full game from center Wayne Chism (who fouled out in just 15 minutes and banged his previously sore hip Tuesday in a loss to Florida) and a big game from guard Scotty Hopson. The sophomore was a McDonald's All-American out of Hopkinsville, Ky., and has all the athleticism to be a big-time player -- but he hasn't been very assertive going to the basket. Hopson shot only 59 free throws in 27 games, just four of them in the last three games.
- Will Tennessee zone the Cats? It's been fairly standard operating procedure this season, testing their outside shooting. It hasn't worked often -- but Kentucky is on a cold streak from outside. UK has made just 10 of its last 51 3-point shots: 4-for-24 against Mississippi State; 3-for-16 against Vanderbilt; 3-for-11 against South Carolina.