One of the largest overhauls in Tennessee men's basketball begins tonight.
"I've got four out of five guys that are new starters going in this one,'' coach Bruce Pearl said with exasperation. "It's going to look different. I'm anxious to see what we do.''
The Vols play host to Division II Brevard, the defending South Atlantic Conference tournament champions, at 7:30 tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Senior Melvin Goins is a returning player taking over as the starting point guard, but other starters - senior transfer John Fields at the post, freshman Tobias Harris at power forward and freshman Jordan McRae on the wing - will be making their first game appearance in Thompson-Boling Arena.
"I'm very excited to be playing my first game in the arena,'' said Fields, who set a single-season record at UNC-Wilmington last season with 59 blocked shots. "My main objective is to help the team. Coach Pearl has given me an opportunity, and I don't want to let him down.''
Pearl said Fields would start over senior Brian Williams, who just returned to practice after missing five days with a sprained ankle.
The high-flying McRae has raised eyebrows in team scrimmages, shooting the highest percentage from beyond the 3-point arc when he's not dunking.
McRae, a finalist in the slam-dunk competition at the Derby Classic high school all-star game in Louisville last spring, said he hopes to please the fans.
"It's good to know the fans have been behind me, but I haven't really done anything yet,'' the 6-foot-5 McRae said.
But if he's alone on a breakaway?
"The crowd will be on their feet,'' he predicted with a laugh.
McRae gets the start on account of fourth-year junior wing Cameron Tatum being out with a bone bruise on his knee. Tatum was sidelined for three weeks before returning to practice Monday.
Harris said he predicts a windmill dunk from McRae, who has been working on a series of other highlight moves.
"There's no telling what he'll do,'' Harris said. "Me, I just want to get out there and get my confidence going, and show the fans that I can be an asset.''
Harris will split time at power forward with Steven Pearl, who has a team-best 11-4 record in the team's mixed inner-squad scrimmages this fall.
Sophomore post/forward Kenny Hall won't play tonight after re-aggravating an injury to his right foot Tuesday. Hall, who left Pratt Pavilion practice facility wearing a protective boot, underwent surgery on the same foot on July 23.
Senior Josh Bone, a combo guard, is questionable with a quadriceps injury.
Freshman Trae Golden will see plenty of minutes at the point guard position behind Goins.
"It's a big step to play for the team to play with fans in attendance,'' Golden said. "It will give all of us some adrenaline.''
Live Media: The game will be available on a video stream on www.utsports.com, and the News Sentinel will feature a live blog from the game in "Ask Griff."
Tickets: Tickets are $5 apiece, and the first 2,500 in attendance get a free schedule poster. Anyone who brings a book to donate to Knox County Libraries gets free admission.
Hamilton's Game: Brevard was set up as an opponent by UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, who worked in the Brevard College cafeteria from the time he was 15 until he graduated from Brevard High School.