Game preview: Tennessee vs. Alabama (2/5/11)
Harris no doubt had some company Tuesday night.
Scotty Hopson went down with an acute ankle sprain during Tuesday's practice, raising doubts as to his availability when the Vols play at Auburn on Thursday night.
Thus UT (14-7, 4-2 SEC) has ankle issues with its two leading scorers for the visit to the Tigers (8-13, 1-6), a 9 p.m. tipoff on ESPN2.
Harris sprained his ankle in the second half of a 74-57 win at Ole Miss on Saturday. He returned to finish the game but hasn't practiced with the team since.
Trainer Chad Newman said Tuesday that Harris is making excellent progress. The 6-foot-8 freshman averaging 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds will be evaluated today.
So will Hopson, but getting him back in time for Auburn will be a challenge.
Newman described the injury as an acute lateral sprain of the left ankle.
"We have to give it 24 hours,'' Newman said. "You can't tell much in a couple of hours.
"He'll be on crutches tonight. We have a game in 48 hours so you want to give it every chance you can by resting it as much as possible.''
Hopson leads the Vols at 16.5 points a game.
The 6-7 junior has never missed a game and has started 87 of the 92 games in his career.
Hopson went down in obvious pain near the end of a high-energy practice. He put no weight on his left leg as he was helped off the court.
"Hopefully, the news will be good,'' said senior guard Josh Bone.
If Hopson can't play or can't get his usual 28.9 minutes a game, the burden will be spread across the roster.
Pearl wasn't ready Tuesday evening to say who would start. The likely candidates would be sophomore Skylar McBee or Bone.
"Josh will play two and three,'' Pearl said, "and we'll look at Renaldo (Woolridge) coming in and getting some rotations at the three.''
Woolridge hasn't played in the past seven games since Pearl reduced his rotation.
Jordan McRae, a freshman guard, has been on indefinite suspension since a Jan. 21 incident on the team bus.
He has missed three games and hasn't practiced with the team.
"We're looking at a range of anywhere from three to six games,'' Pearl said. "He could be a factor (Thursday) but that's discretionary at this point.''
Pearl won't be traveling to Auburn as he sits out the seventh game of an eight-game SEC suspension.
"We've overcome a lot of adversity in a lot of different ways,'' Pearl said. "That's what we do. That's what depth is for and that's why guys have to stay right and ready.''
When Melvin Goins was sidelined against Missouri State on Nov. 17, freshman Trae Golden and McBee combined at point guard in a 60-56 win. McBee's role also expanded when Golden was ill and missed the win over Villanova on Nov. 26.
"When you lose a scorer like Scotty,'' McBee said, "collectively as a team everybody has to step up and contribute.
"We've dealt with adversity before and we've seen somebody step up every time. I don't count this time as being any different.''
Cam Tatum is UT's third-leading scorer at 10.0 ppg.
"We've got guys on this team that look forward to the opportunity and will be ready to play,'' Tatum said.
"I think everybody is still confident in the rest of this team and I know (Hopson) is confident in the rest of this team as well.''