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Tennessee - Temple preview: Christmas is coming, and your goose is getting cooked

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It happens every single blasted year. Thanksgiving comes and goes, and I think to myself, "Only a few weeks until Christmas. Get your shopping done and rid your desk of the most venomous snakes because YOU'LL BE LEAVING TOWN FOR TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOU KNOW IT!" And then comes stuff. You know all of those activities that your kids do all year? Each and every single one of them is compelled by federal statute to have an END OF THE YEAR EVENT! And what is it with business folk scheduling a bunch of stuff in the last two weeks of December when they know full well the only work that will get done during this time is to have their lawyers negotiate the extensions of deadlines that never should have been scheduled? Hmph. Bah. Humbug.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Christmas is coming, and I'm not ready. Dionte Christmas is coming, too, and I wonder whether the Tennessee Volunteers are ready.

The team is probably delirious about getting to play a game instead of being subjected to Bruce Pearl's Happy Torture Sessions. The team will be traveling to Philadelphia today to have a look at the Liberty Bell, and they'll be playing Christmas and the Temple Owls tomorrow. Christmas leads the Atlantic 10 conference and ranks 61st in the nation with an average of 23.8 points per game. The 6-5 guard hits 37.9 percent of this three point attempts and takes enough to hit an average of 3.1 of them per game. Oh, and somehow, he's getting 8.8 rebounds per game as well.

Temple's far from a one-man team, too. Junior guard Ryan Brooks and sophomore forward Lavoy Allen also average double-figures in points with 13.8 and 11, respectively. In all, four starters return from a team that finished 21-13 and second in the Atlantic 10 last season. They lost lost to Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March.

Of course, we also have a star in Tyler Smith and a deep and talented supporting cast as well. We all know that Teardrops was just named the SEC Player of the Week for his triple double against UNC-Asheville. Truth is, the guy flirts with triple doubles all of the time:

Date Opponent Pts Rebs Assts
11/24/07 Texas
11
8
8
11/30/07 La.-Lafayette
22
7
8
12/29/07 Gonzaga
11
11
6
1/26/08 Georgia
17
9
7
2/16/08 Georgia
17
9
7
3/21/08 American
14
7
6

With JaJuan and Ramar having departed, Tyler may be the only Smith on the team this year, but he's certainly not the only playmaker. Junior point guard Bobby Maze is putting on for Tennessee and putting up some solid numbers. He currently ranks 63rd in the nation in assists per game with 5.1 and, even more impressively, he ranks 5th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio with 4.5. And watch out Wheezy, because Brian Williams is pushing you for your starting gig and ranking in the top 100 nationally in rebounds per game. Oh, and if you haven't heard, Williams has lost 100 some pounds and Emmanuel Negedu speaks four or five languages. Don't trouble yourself with having to remember those two facts, because you're likely to hear them again during the broadcast of the game tomorrow. And the game after that. And so on and so on. The legend grows with each telling, and by March I fully expect Williams to have lost eleventy billion pounds and Negedu to not only be fluent in 247 of the world's most arcane dialects, but to have created his own universal language consisting of beeps and boops that will finally allow us to establish communication with the aliens.

Speaking of aliens, we also happen to have Hulk Smash, who just became the sixth-fastest college coach to reach 400 wins. That puts him in some lofty historical company:

Coach Teams Games to 400 wins
1. Adolph Rupp Kentucky
477
2. Clair Bee Rider, Long Island
483
3. Jerry Tarkanian Long Beach State, UNLV
492
4. Roy Williams Kansas
496
5. Henry Iba NW Mo. St., Colorado, Okla. St.
500
6. Frank Keaney Rhode Island
521

I am highly skeptical of anyone named "Clair Bee" and of whether there are any schools, much less basketball programs, named "Rider" or "Long Island," but you know.

Anyway, Vol fans should be in for a good game Saturday. Tip off is at high noon, EST. Stats and a CBS video preview of the game are below. Enjoy, and see you in the game thread.

KEY STATS COMPARISON
Tennessee logo
Temple logo
Category
Rank
Actual
Rank
Actual
Scoring Offense
6
87.1
180
68.9
Scoring Defense
236
71.3
173
67.3
Scoring Margin
28
15.9
176
1.6
Field-Goal Percentage
38
48.6
155
43.9
Field-Goal Percentage Defense
153
42.2
181
43.2
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game
122
6.7
93
7.1
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage
109
36.2
130
35.0
Three Pt FG Defense
90
0.309
299
0.394
Free-Throw Percentage
133
69.5
156
68.7
Rebound Margin
3
13.1
130
2.7
Assists Per Game
8
19.6
45
16.1
Assist Turnover Ratio
48
1.16
81
1.09
Blocked Shots Per Game
119
3.7
148
3.4
Steals Per Game
130
7.4
171
6.9
Turnovers Per Game
271
16.9
169
14.9
Turnover Margin
201
-0.7
223
-1.3
Personal Fouls Per Game
257
20.7
129
18.3
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH Tennessee logo
Temple logo
Category Player Rank Actual Player Rank Actual
Points Per Game  


Dionte Christmas
61
19.0
Field-Goal Percentage  


 


Three-Point Field Goals Per Game  


Dionte Christmas
45
3.1
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage  


Dionte Christmas
100
37.9
Free-Throw Percentage  


 


Rebounds Per Game Brian Williams
93
8.1
Lavoy Allen
83
8.3
Assists Per Game Bobby Maze
Tyler Smith
63
96
5.1
4.7
 


Blocked Shots Per Game  


 


Steals Per Game  


 


Assist Turnover Ratio Bobby Maze
5
4.5
Luis Guzman
67
2.38

 


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