Prince back; Louisiana missing top scorer

The injury report favors Tennessee this evening.

The 16th-ranked Vols will welcome back junior guard J.P. Prince. Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns won’t be as fortunate.

Louisiana (4-6) will have to play its second consecutive game without 6-foot-7 guard Travis Bureau, who leads the team in scoring and field-goal percentage. Bureau, who has a groin injury, didn’t make the trip to Knoxville, according to a UL publicist.

Prince, the SEC’s sixth man of the year in 2007-08, has missed the last three games with an ankle injury. UT coach Bruce Pearl hopes Prince can play 10 to 15 minutes.

“I’m encouraged about J.P.,” Pearl said after Sunday afternoon’s practice. “You can see he’s about 75 percent. But I think we can get some productive minutes from him.”

His return is fortuitous. Following tonight’s game at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Vols will begin a taxing seven-game stretch that will include games against Kansas, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Memphis.

“We’re pleased with where we’re at as far as our results,” Pearl said. “We’ve got two top-25 wins. We’ve beaten everybody on our schedule we’re supposed to beat.

“At this point, it’s more about us than it is about our opponent. It’s about us trying to play our best basketball. There is room for growth. But the time is now. It’s right now.”

There is more room for growth on defense, according to junior forward Tyler Smith, the Vols’ leading scorer.

“We need to work on our defense — help defense and taking charges,” Smith said. “Our offense is going to come with all our talent. We’ve got to hold our opponents, I’d say, below 40 percent (shooting).”

UT’s opponents have hit 43 percent of their shots in the first 10 games. But the Vols (8-2) have shown improvement in the last two games, holding Marquette to 37.5 percent shooting and Belmont to 41.4 percent.

UT’s defensive challenge won’t be as formidable with Bureau sidelined. He’s averaging 16.8 points per game and has made 53.5 percent of his shots, including a team-leading 46.8 percent from 3-point range.

La’Ryan Gary, another 6-7 guard, is expected to start in Bureau’s place. Gary is averaging 7 points per game but has made just 34.4 percent of his shots.

Without Bureau, the Cajuns likely will rely more on their inside game. Four of their starters are 6-7 or taller.

“They block about 6 ½ shots per game and they’re very long and athletic,” Pearl said. “I think their size could bother us. Inside shots are not always a high-percentage shot when you go up against a team that blocks shots so well.

“We worked on zone offense, because this team is multiple defensively. They play man and zone, and they play a couple of different kinds of zones.”

UT doesn’t have the 3-point firepower that it did last season; but that’s not the only reason Pearl expects to see more zones this season.

“I think one of the reasons we see them is that we’re tough to cover (man-to-man),” Pearl said. “Who do you match up Tyler with? Wayne (Chism)? Or J.P.?

“We’ve got some guys who are match-up problems. It’s just easier to get in a zone.”

Prince’s return will put more pressure on opposing defenses.

“J.P. is a high IQ player,” Pearl said. “He understands the game.

“You don’t have to put him in position to make plays. He does it naturally.”

Tipins: UT will be trying to extend its 36-game home-court winning streak, which is the longest in school history and the third-longest active streak in the country. ... The Vols haven’t scored fewer than 72 points this season; the Cajuns have scored under 60 four times. UT is 21-3 all-time against Sun Belt Belt Conference opponents. ... This is Louisiana’s second game against an SEC opponent this month. It lost to Alabama 61-44.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 14

bigrob writes:

Maybe we will look more like the team that defeated georgetown than the team that got spanked by temple

jlhayse#417706 writes:

"Following tonight’s game at Thompson-Boling Arena..."

I thought we played tomorrow night?

ncvol writes:

Good luck tomorrow night guys...Let's get a good start and get a win. Sure is good to have Prince back...
Go Vols!
jlhayse - they post some of the stories early...

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

Where do all of these 6 foot 7 guys come from ? When we were kids i didn't see many around? How do you like plasticman's words, "Prince is a key to this team, his mother made him eat oatmeal and his daddy read him bedtime stories". Really!! Notice how NC Vols words flow. bigrob is into a little fetish(with his spanking remarks). Maybe he wants to be a sportswriter. Have a good day people, it's good to be a Volunteer, and not a gator, tiger, hog, gamecock, and multi other asunder crappy things.

jesseejames57 writes:

Ready to rumble in the jungle with the mighty vols. It's !!Time!! to get excited, JP's back and we hear Childress may be back soon. Ryan can certainely help this team. WE need his experience and leadership. So come on ryan and get your mind on your business.

THE_VOL writes:

This is a blow-out. Laffy is horrible and Lee can't coach. Prince will get just enough minutes to get some rust off and see how that ankle responds overnight. And I'll say it one more time for you dense ones - Childress is finished. Period. End of story. Even IF he gets back he'll only get mop up minutes. He wasn't good before and he won't be with one leg either.

overatedvols writes:

Cupcake train pulls in with the Lousiana cupcakes aboard.
Nice schedule guys.

In the meantime Memphis will take on 10-2 Cincinnati tonight at 8pm central. The game will be on espn2 for vol fans that are tired of seeing cupcake matches and want to see a real game.

db11_cn writes:

Does anyone know details on the kid coming to UT from Southern Illinois University? If his status is "walk-on" what would his eligibility date be? I believe the name is Josh Bone.

WVVOLFAN writes:

in response to overatedvols:

Cupcake train pulls in with the Lousiana cupcakes aboard.
Nice schedule guys.

In the meantime Memphis will take on 10-2 Cincinnati tonight at 8pm central. The game will be on espn2 for vol fans that are tired of seeing cupcake matches and want to see a real game.

The engine of the CUPCAKE TRAIN
UT 66 MSU62 AT MEMPHIS

UT 90 Georgetown 78
MSU 70 Georgetown 79

Cupcake Train (CUSA Schedule) pulls out 1/7/09 vs Marshall

overatedvols writes:

Appears the Lousiana Laf. team is talking trash. The following quotes are from the Lousiana Lafayette Times.

Guard Tyrone Jones says "The only games they won were against nothin teams. When they play a good team they lose"

Center Jerome Johnson says "They ain't about nothin"

Forward Andre Jones says "Everybody knows there is only one good team in the state of Tenn. and it's over on the west side"

Coach Robert Cajun says "I just hope they don't overlook this Tenn. team. They've got a tendency to look past teams like Tenn. in anticipation of the better teams and bigger names on the schedule"

dwa7#337691 writes:

prediction:

UT 85
Laffy 71

should be about right.......

givehim6 writes:

This will be a good time to get prince back. A light game so he can knock the rust off before the bigger games.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LL lost 78-64 to North Texas and lost after that to Sam Houston. Lets hope this is a solid win. January is huge. Need a good game for confidence.

db11_cn writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll tell you where I got this. Fox Sports last week had him on a list of mid-season transfers and showed him as a "walk-on" to UT.
The SIU site showed Bone at 6'3", injured much of frosh. year,and an 18 (?)
game starter as soph. He apparently got one of those 'handwriting on the wall' moments during a pre-practice team trip.
I remember Bone was a teammate of Brendan Wright at Brentwood Academy.

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