Tennessee set to battle South Carolina

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- It’s been nearly one full month since the Tennessee basketball team has played a weekend home game, so the Volunteers (14-8, 5-4 SEC) are energized about playing host to South Carolina (8-14, 1-8 SEC) Saturday on Rocky Top.

Tipoff is set for 3:05 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

“It feels good. It feels like we haven’t been in Thompson-Boling Arena on a Saturday in a while,” UT head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “It should be fun. I’m excited about it, and our guys are looking forward to it.”

No player on Tennessee’s roster has ever experienced a loss to South Carolina, as the Big Orange are riding a 12-game win streak in the series, dating to 2007.

Since the Gamecocks did not visit Knoxville last season, Saturday provides Vol fans with their first opportunity to watch second-year South Carolina head coach Frank Martin roam the Thompson-Boling Arena sidelines.

“The one thing about Frank Martin and his teams – they play hard, they play physical, they press you,” Cuonzo Martin said. “You’ve got to be able to make individual plays off the dribble. Get to the rim and be strong. If you’re not a physical team, if you’re not strong, they’ll beat you up.”

While the Gamecocks have posted just one win through the first half of the SEC schedule, the UT coaching staff has reminded its Tennessee squad that any team in the conference is a formidable foe on any given day.

“In league play, it doesn’t matter what the record is,” Cuonzo Martin said.

Senior South Carolina guard Brenton Williams is the nation’s top free-throw shooter, making 96 percent of his attempts from the line. He averages 18.2 points per game in SEC play, which ranks sixth in the league.

Williams has made at least four 3-pointers in five consecutive games, and he scored 32 points last Saturday at Missouri.

The Gamecocks’ attack also features versatile freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell, who is averaging 16.8 points in SEC play.

There was a legendary aura at Tennessee’s practice Friday at Pratt Pavilion, as two-time Converse All-American, Dr. Ed Wiener, attended the workout with his family.

Wiener has been selected as Tennessee’s 2014 representative for the annual Allstate® SEC Basketball Legends program at the SEC Tournament. Each SEC Basketball Legend will be recognized at halftime of his institution’s first game at the tournament, which runs March 12-16 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

“It was an honor having him and his family at practice,” Cuonzo Martin said. “I’ve spoken with him several times over the phone, but today was my first time actually meeting him. He was obviously a great ball-player, and you can tell he’s a great person as well.”

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Wiener was a standout forward for the Volunteers under head coach Emmett Lowery from 1952-55. He led Tennessee in both scoring and rebounding as a sophomore in 1953.

He and was a first-team All-SEC selection during his senior season. In 73 career games as a Vol, he averaged 16.6 points per game before playing professionally in the NBA.

His son, Craig Wiener – who joined him at Friday’s practice – was a member of the Tennessee basketball team during the 1979-80 season.

Saturday’s South Carolina game is one of two remaining Tennessee men’s home games this season for which fans can purchase the popular 4-Point Play pack.

The 4-Point Play also is available for the upcoming home game against Georgia (Feb. 18).

The promotion includes four game tickets, four hot dogs and four medium drinks – all for just $44.

Fans may buy the package for more than one game and/or more than four tickets to a game. The minimum order is four tickets.

Fans can easily purchase the 4-Point Play by visiting UTtix.com, calling 1-800-332-8657 or by visiting the UT Ticket Office during business hours.

For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter and Instagram.

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