KNOXVILLE — Though he's two years younger than Tennessee teammate Kenny Hall, Trae Golden apparently has a better knowledge of college basketball history.
When Golden thinks of Georgetown, the Volunteers' point guard envisions Patrick Ewing, towel-toting coach John Thompson and the 1984 NCAA tournament champions.
"You've got to talk to my Pops about that," senior center Hall joked this week after associating the Hoyas with more recent college-turned-NBA stars Allen Iverson and Greg Monroe.
Golden, Hall and the rest of the Vols will get an up-close view of one of college basketball's traditional programs tonight in Washington, D.C., in one of the marquee matchups in the SEC/Big East Challenge.
Though perception might not put the Hoyas -- who have been to five Final Fours and 11 Sweet Sixteens and won 16 Big East titles -- in the same group with Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA, Georgetown's basketball success is not lost on the Vols.
"They know the name and what Georgetown brings to the table," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said.
They know it brings an opportunity for a big early-season win.
"It's always fun to play a team that has the history that they have behind their name," Hall said. "It's going to be a good fight out there. It's going to be entertaining to watch.
"It's a big opportunity. I like to think of our program as a program as being one of the names up there. Not really historically as they are, but it's another chance to get out there and earn the respect from the nation that we deserve."
The Vols appeared to find themselves a little bit in their final game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off and carried it over into Monday's waxing of Oakland, which beat them the past two seasons. In that preseason tournament, the Vols flopped against Oklahoma State, their best opponent to date. The Cowboys then whipped ACC favorite North Carolina State and have climbed to 15th in the rankings, five spots ahead of the Hoyas.
Georgetown pushed top-ranked Indiana to overtime in the Legends Classic final before succumbing and had its season opener against Florida aboard an aircraft carrier canceled due to moisture on the makeshift court.
Like other teams in its conference, Georgetown blends length, athleticism and a physical style of tough defensive basketball.
"Those guys, when you're talking physical, that's their brand," Martin said. "For us, we expect that, a level of play that's physical. It just depends on how the referees call the games ... and we make the adjustment."
Even if the Hoyas weren't expected to be contenders for the Big East title, they'd have Tennessee's attention -- and respect.
"Any time, whether they're ranked or they're not ranked, they're a storied program, so it'd be a great win for us," Golden said. "We're looking forward to getting a win there. If we focus and execute our game plan, it's something we can do.
"This is a great program, a storied program. We're trying to build our way to be something like that. To get a win there would be big for us."
Added Hall: "It's going to be a big moment early in the season for us."
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 ...