published Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Vols seek difficult road win

KNOXVILLE -- Melvin Goins wasn't around for the last two trips the University of Tennessee men's basketball team took to Ole Miss.

All that means is the Volunteers' senior point guard missed out on being a part of two double-digit losses.

"For me," Goins said after practice Thursday, "I take pride in my school and my university and my team, and just to know that us as a unit, we haven't gone down there and gotten a win before, it's kind of disturbing and it is a motivating factor."

When the Vols (13-7, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) step on the floor of the C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum -- or the "Tad Pad," as it's often called -- they will try to do something no UT team has done since 2003: beat the Rebels (13-7, 1-4) in Oxford.

"It'll be hard to beat Ole Miss at Ole Miss," said UT coach Bruce Pearl, who did not travel with the team as he sits out the sixth game of his eight-game conference suspension.

The home team has won every game in this series since UT's 66-64 victory eight years ago. The only two SEC venues where Pearl hasn't won in his six seasons at UT are at Ole Miss and Auburn -- the Vols' next two stops.

"It's just an incentive," Pearl said. "I like to say, 'Let's do something that a Tennessee team hasn't done in a while.' That's something we haven't done in a while, and that's what we're looking to try to do."

The Vols did beat Ole Miss twice last year -- in overtime in Knoxville and in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament in Nashville.

A key for both of those victories was slowing Rebels point guard Chris Warren, a preseason All-SEC first-team selection and the nation's leader in free-throw accuracy (94.8 percent).

Warren, a 5-foot-10, 168-pound senior, totaled 35 points in the meetings against UT last year, but it took him 33 shots to score those points. He shot 30 percent and all 10 field goals he made against the Vols were 3-pointers.

"He's a great player," Goins said. "Guys like that, it's hard to really stop them. They're going to get their looks, especially a guy like him.

"He has a green light on his team so he's going to get his attempts, so you've just got to try to make his life uncomfortable, make every shot challenged -- play smart defense without fouling him."

Goins, known for his defensive prowess, has picked up his own game in UT's past two outings. He scored 15 points with six rebounds, five assists and two steals in a loss at Connecticut last weekend. In the 75-53 win over LSU on Wednesday, Goins tied a career high with six assists to go with 11 points and three rebounds.

The muscular 5-11, 180-pound San Diego native, who came to UT from Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) College after a standout freshman season at Ball State, made four of nine 3-pointers in those two games.

"These guys are real tough ball club -- physical, hard-nosed," he said. "Them being at home is going to make it even tougher. We know that, and I think we're prepared for that. I think it'll be a good challenge for us to go down there and try to steal one on their home floor.

"We're just going to go down there and focus and just try to play our best basketball and get a win down there."

Follow our Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter by following this link.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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