published Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Texas test: Vols face high-scoring Turner

KNOXVILLE - Their names are always on the top of Tennessee's defensive scouting reports.

Typically they've been the biggest thorns in the Volunteers' sides, too.

With another of the SEC's big scorers up next on the schedule in Texas A&M's Elston Turner, Tennessee must reverse a trend of allowing leading scorers to lead their teams past the Vols in order to continue its late-season surge.

"You've got to accept challenges," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said Thursday, "and that's the bottom line."

A 6-foot-5 Washington transfer whose father was born in Knoxville, Turner is the SEC's third-highest scorer this season behind talented and troubled Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson and Georgia swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

He lit up Kentucky for 40 points last month in the Aggies' historic win at Rupp Arena and scorched Henderson's Rebels for 37 just 10 days ago. Turner scored 26 points against Troy and Houston and 21 against Kentucky in College Station. He'll face the Vols off a 21-point performance in Wednesday's win at hapless Auburn.

Josh Richardson, considered Tennessee's best defender, will get the first crack at stopping Turner.

"You know Josh will accept the challenge, but it's easier said than done," Martin said. [Turner's] averaging 16 points for a reason. He knows how to get his shots.

"They set screens for him to get him certain looks, so he knows he's going to have the opportunity to score the basketball. The key is to make his shots tough [and] to minimize easy looks. You want a hand in his face at all times, try to keep him off the free-throw line [and] every shot for him to be a tough shot."

Slowing the opponent's best perimeter scorer has been troublesome for Tennessee this season. Henderson scored 32 and 28 loud points in the Rebels' sweep of the Vols, and Caldwell-Pope closed out the Bulldogs' win in Knoxville with 24 points and some dagger 3-pointers.

Arkansas guard B.J. Young scored 25 points in the Razorbacks' win in Fayetteville three weeks ago.

The Aggies are 5-1 when Turner, who shoots 42 percent from the field, 37 percent on 3-pointers and 81 percent at the free-throw line, reaches the 20-point barrier. Florida and LSU are the only teams this season to hold Turner to less than 10 points. He scored nine points on 1-of-17 shooting in those two losses.

If Fabyon Harris, Texas A&M's second leading scorer who missed Wednesday's win at Auburn with an ankle injury, is again unavailable, Turner's touches -- and Tennessee's task -- could increase.

"Josh has got to do the job," Martin said. "Josh will do the job. We'll make him work for baskets, we'll make him take tough shots and we have certain defensive schemes where Josh will corral him in certain ways depending on where he gets the ball.

"We're going into this game doing the best job to make him take tough shots, and everybody else has to do their job. I believe in Josh, and with Josh not on him, then Skylar McBee, then Jordan McRae -- I believe in those guys to do the job. I think our guys will do the job."

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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