BATON ROUGE, La. - LSU has yet to win an SEC basketball game, but Tennessee senior J.P. Prince said he's not reading too much into that.
"I'm pretty sure they aren't going to just come out and give up,'' Prince said Wednesday. "Look at Georgia, we went there and played hard and they had their day. I expect another tough game.''
Prince, in particular, should; he'll play his share of defense against LSU's do-everything forward, 6-foot-7, 245-pound Tasmin Mitchell.
It could prove to be the key matchup for 14th-ranked UT (16-4, 4-2 SEC) against the Tigers (9-12, 0-7) at the Maravich Assembly Center tonight (TV: ESPN2, 9 p.m.).
Mitchell leads LSU in scoring (17.9 points per game), rebounds (9.6) and 3-point shooting (.321).
The Tigers beat the Vols last season, 79-73, in large part because Mitchell kept former UT standout Tyler Smith in check.
Prince, who is 6-7, 205 pounds, knows what to expect from Mitchell tonight.
"He'll try to post me up,'' Prince said. "Sometimes, I don't think people realize how strong I am. I'm going to make him shoot over me.''
UT coach Bruce Pearl said others will have a turn at guarding Mitchell, too.
"We're just going to have to play smart,'' Pearl said. "And we need to get off to a good start in here.''
All of LSU's victories have come at home this season.
"How do you want to go in and face a Tiger?'' Pearl said. "When he's fat and happy, or when he has a thorn in his paw? We're going to be facing an LSU team that's not very happy.''
Prince leads the Vols in most momentum-changing categories: charges drawn (16), steals (32) and career dunks (73).
"I just try to bring the energy,'' Prince said. "It's just a matter of finding ways to contribute.''
Prince has spearheaded a UT team that has become known for winning with defense, ranking second in the league in points allowed in SEC games (67.2).
The Vols are 15-1 when holding their opponent under 50 percent shooting and 14-0 when the opponent scores less than 69 points.
"You've got to scratch where it itches,'' Pearl said. "You've got to put your team in position to be successful, and you can't be stubborn with your style.''
Pearl has made a career out of winning high-scoring games, pressing tempo en route to leading his respective leagues in scoring 16 of his 17 years as a head coach.
The Vols led the SEC in scoring each of Pearl's four previous seasons, but that streak is most likely coming to an end. UT averaged 81.4 points prior to the well-documented Jan. 1 traffic stop involving four players, but it's scoring only 72.4 points in the eight games since then.
"It's different for us, and that's OK,'' he said. "We just have to become more efficient.''
The Line: Tennessee is an 8 1/2-point favorite over LSU tonight. The Vols are 1-2 as a road favorite this season, losing when they were favored by 10 1/2 at Southern Cal and when they were favored by seven at Georgia.
Family Tie: Both of Renaldo Woolridge's parents are from Mansfield, La., and father Orlando Woolridge will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in June.
Did You Know: LSU coach Trent Johnson is the only current SEC coach with a winning record (1-0) against Pearl.