Tennessee goes on the road Wednesday night to face NC State (7 pm, ESPN2). Donnie Tyndall, Armani Moore and Josh Richardson met with the media Tuesday afternoon before departing for Raleigh. Here are a few notes from Tuesday’s media availability.
First Road Game: The Vols will be playing their first true road game of the season Wednesday night and that’s not lost on Tyndall. “I say every year that no matter where you’re at, the toughest thing in college basketball to do is to go win on the road,” Tyndall said. “In basketball, more than in other sport, the home court advantage is huge.”
NC State is coming off a one-point home loss to Wofford and that’s something Tyndall thinks will lead to motivation for the Wolfpack. “I was hoping like heck they (NC State) were going to win that game,” he said. “Mark is a very good coach. I’m sure they’ve had two kinda grind it out days in practice. They’ll probably have a great crowd with a team like Tennessee coming in…their team will be ready and excited to play and hopefully we will as well.”
Wolfpack Supremely Talented: “They’re the most talented team we’ve played with the possible exception of Kansas,” Tyndall said. “Their point guard is a pro. He’s going to play in the NBA. He’s unbelievably fast with the basketball. They have two wings that can really, really shoot it with range. And then their big guys around the goal aren’t scoring it at a high clip, but they’re athletic, they’re long and they’re great shot blockers.”
Punter A Double-Figure Scorer: Junior guard Kevin Punter entered Sunday’s game with Butler averaging 9.2 points per game and nearly doubled his typical output by scoring 18 points on 7-10 shooting. “I don’t know that Kevin’s ever going to be a guy to average 18 a game, but I certainly think he’s a double-figure scorer. He scored it well in junior college. He’s a guy that lets the game come to him. He doesn’t take a lot of bad shots. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with the speed of this level and how fast Division-1 basketball is…I think he’s a guy both years here that can be a double-figure type guy.”
Starting Five: Kevin Punter, Josh Richardson, Devon Baulkman, Armani Moore and Willie Carmichael started Tennessee’s win over No. 15 Butler and Tyndall, for now, plans to stick with that lineup. “As it sits right now, we’re gonna go with the same starting five. But that could change as I sleep on it.”
Tyndall went on to say his starting lineups are based on a combination of matchups and how well guys are practicing.
Richardson Confident: Tennessee’s senior point guard is coming off a 20-point performance against Butler and averaged 20.5 points per game in Raleigh (PNC Arena) during Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament run last season. “I’m definitely going in with a lot of confidence knowing how well I played last time I was in that gym,” Richardson said. “I hope that confidence can carry over to the rest of our team. I think we had a good practice after that last game. If we come out and play well in the first half, we should be good.”