Mike Strange: Here's all you need to know

Mike Strange

Here is almost everything you need to know about the Tennessee-Vanderbilt basketball rivalry. The obvious omission is who will win today's game.

- Kevin Stallings was nearly Tennessee's coach. In the 1997 search to replace Kevin O'Neill, Stallings, then at Illinois State, was all but a done deal for Tennessee when he got cold feet. It's a long story.

- One year later, Stallings' Illinois State team bounced UT out of the 1998 NCAA tournament in the first round. The year after that, Stallings landed at Vanderbilt and has proceeded to go 10-14 against Tennessee, including a sweep last year.

- Prior to his 85-76 win here last year Stallings had lost four straight in Knoxville by an average of 18.2 points per game.

- Today is the first meeting in the series since the death of Roy Skinner in October. Skinner's coaching tenure at Vandy roughly coincided with Ray Mears' at UT. The two elevated the rivalry to a new level in the 1960s and '70s.

- The Vols have beaten Vandy more times - 108 - than any other foe. Georgia is second at 90.

The Commodores have beaten UT 69 times, ranking third behind Kentucky (144) and Alabama (72).

- Vanderbilt's leading scorer, John Jenkins, is a Tennessean surrounded by an international cast: Jeffery Taylor from Sweden; Festus Ezeli from Nigeria; Steve Tchiengang from Cameroon.

A.J. Ogilvy, an Australian, turned pro after his junior year but the 'Dores don't seem to miss him terribly.

Jenkins, of Hendersonville, is the only home-grown starter for either team today.

- UT freshman Tobias Harris has recorded five double-doubles, including one in each the past three games. Wayne Chism had a team-high eight last year.

- The most points ever scored by a player in a Vandy-UT game was 35 by the Vols' Danny Shultz in 1964.

A Vol has scored 30 or more points 14 times, most recently Tyler Smith in 2009; a Commodore has done it six times, most recently Shan Foster in 2008.

- Tennessee has appeared in 18 NCAA tournaments, with a record of 16-18. Vanderbilt has gone dancing 11 times, with a 9-12 mark.

Each has appeared in one Elite Eight and six Sweet 16s.

- UT has cached nine regular-season SEC titles, the most recent in 2008, and has won four SEC tournaments.

Vanderbilt has three regular-season titles, the most recent in 1993, and one SEC tournament title.

- Vandy won the 1990 NIT. UT has finished third twice, most recently in 1985.

- Tennessee has 1,481 all-time wins. Vanderbilt has 1,459.

- The Vols have produced eight Associated Press SEC players of the year and two Olympians - Ernie Grunfeld and Allan Houston.

Vanderbilt has six SEC players of the year and one Olympian, Jeff Turner.

- Three Commodores have been named first-team Academic All-America. UT has two, Bill Justus and Lang Wiseman.

- Tennessee's longest winning streak in the rivalry is 11 games, in the 1940s. Vandy's longest streak is six, in the 1950s.

- A Vandy win today would be four of the past six. A Tennessee win would be seven of the past 11.

- Scotty Hopson quietly became the 43rd member of UT's 1,000-point club last week. He's at 1,026 points and has a ways to go to catch all-time leader Allan Houston's 2,801. Jeffery Taylor recently became the 41st 1,000-point Commodore. Shan Foster's 2,011 is the standard.

- Vanderbilt hits 72.4 percent of its free throws this season, second-best in the SEC. Tennessee is seventh in the SEC at 68.0 percent. However, the Vols were a combined 63.8 percent in close losses to Arkansas and Florida.

- Watch the glass. Vanderbilt has out-rebounded UT the past four meetings.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 4

LiveFaith writes:

Suffered thru last year 2 TBA. Could not bear it this yr. Prove me wrong Vols.

walt23tn writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I saw this way differently than you. I noticed how important Pearl has been to this program. As I read these stats that were compiled over a long period of time, I noticed these consolidated totals were way closer than I had even realized. It's easy to see the troubles right now, but we have been mediocre for most of our program's life until recently. I don't want to be this close to Vandy in anything, except for academics. This list looked more like a recruiting tool for Vandy. Let's go Vols, times to start pulling away for good!!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm sure you were sort of kidding about the benches at Memorial Gym. Suffice to say it would take a complete reconstruction of the entire interior of the building to put the benches "in the right place". Its present configuration was "grandfathered" in when the NCAA published regulations for the layout of "official" gyms some years ago. No way Vandy is likely to change it now, since it is an obvious advantage to them, or at least an obvious DISadvantage to the visiting teams who have to contend with its uniqueness.

Today, I am FAR more concerned with the strength, depth, and balance of a Vandy team which seems almost specifically structured to give this Vol team fits! I just hope the Vols come out with a Pittsburgh-like level of effort and execution, because that is what it will take for them to prevail in their biggest game of the year so far in front of a national TV audience.

kcbigorngX writes:

Grunfeld got SEC honors and Bernard King didn't? That's just wrong, man.
The only reason would be off the court antics. Bernie had the quickest shot of any player ever. He was always one of my favorites along with James Worthy of NC. Unstoppable first step...

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