Saturday, January 3, 2009
Tennessee forward Wayne Chism, who was taken off the court on a stretcher after banging his head and back on the court after going up for a blocked shot in the Volunteers’ last game, practiced Friday and is expected to play today.
“He’s a tough kid. He is,” said coach Bruce Pearl.
The Jayhawks have won 31 straight games in Allen Fieldhouse.
“Not really,” KU’s Mario Little said, asked if the streak has been discussed. “It’s something we must do,” he added of winning.
“We’d like for it to continue. It’s not what we are thinking about,” guard Sherron Collins noted.
“Every year we talk about having a great record in Allen, but I won’t make a big deal about that,” coach Bill Self indicated, acknowledging it’s a big game for a different reason.
“We have had opportunities. Syracuse was an opportunity. Arizona was an opportunity. We came up short in those. This is certainly one of those resumé wins that we need,” Self said. “Tennessee already has a great resumé win beating Georgetown and Marquette (with losses to Temple and Gonzaga). They’ve got two terrific wins and we’ve got zero. This would be a nice feather in our cap.”
Will crowd be loud?
The Jayhawks hope the fans are at their best today at the fieldhouse.
“It should be the most intense game we’ve had in the fieldhouse this year,” Self said.
“It’s one of the signature games of the season,” soph center Cole Aldrich said. “The fieldhouse will be rocking. It’ll be a blast. It’d be a huge win for us if we could pull one off. Obviously they are a top-25 team. We know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Collins added: “It’s a big game. We need it. I think we’re ready. In the back of our heads we’ve got to prove something. Every name team we played so far we lost. We are trying to figure out, see if we can beat a household (name) team.”
UT pressure expected
Tennessee figures to press some today.
“They always are putting pressure on you to inbound the ball. That’s something coach Pearl’s teams take great pride in,” Self said.
“They are physical, strong, athletic as all get-out,” Aldrich said. “They run, jump, are long. They will run, pressure the ball everywhere.”
Of a pressing style of play, Pearl said: “We’re a little bigger, little longer so we’re not able to press quite as much (this year).”
The two teams have yet to meet in men’s hoops. ... KU has faced nine of 12 SEC teams and has a 28-29 record against the conference.