published Friday, October 29th, 2010

UT 23rd in hoops AP poll

After an eventful offseason, the Tennessee men’s basketball team prepares to open the 2010-11 season in familiar territory — as one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.

The Associated Press released its preseason Top 25 on Thursday, and the Volunteers were ranked 23rd, joining Florida (ninth) and Kentucky (11th) from the Southeastern Conference in the AP’s initial rankings.

Last season, coach Bruce Pearl led the Vols to a 28-9 record and a first-ever trip to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. Despite the dismissal of star Tyler Smith following the arrest of four players in January, UT pulled off upset wins over then No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Kentucky late in the season.

Vols senior point guard Melvin Goins said earlier in the preseason that the Vols thrive on surpassing the expectations of the national media.

“A lot of people, for whatever reason, just don’t consider us one of the best programs,” Goins said. “That’s fine. People can think whatever they want. We’ll just go out there and have another great season and keep proving people wrong. That’s just what we do.”

Wednesday, junior guard Scotty Hopson was named to the preseason All-SEC first team by the league’s coaches.

“The ability that we have is endless,” Goins said. “We have great talent, and we’re really, really deep this year. I think if we just handle our business and take care of business, we’ll be in good shape. And that’s our plan.”

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