Thursday , Mar , 16 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Vols take on Eagles in first-round action from Greensboro

=== Vols take on Eagles in first-round action from Greensboro ===

(Sports Network) – The Tennessee Volunteers will make their 14th appearance
in the NCAA Tournament when they battle the 15th-seeded Winthrop Eagles in
the first round at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Vols closed out the regular
season with a 21-7 record the captured the Eastern Division Championship in
the SEC, but the team did not win the overall regular-season conference title
and suffered an early exit in the SEC Tournament. However, despite the
mediocre finish, the Vols come into the “Big Dance” as a two-seed, which
is the highest seeding Tennessee has received in its history in the NCAA
Tournament. While this is the 14th appearance for Tennessee in the
tournament, it is the team’s first since the 2001 season.

As for the Eagles, they captured the Big South Conference regular season
and tournament titles, finishing their schedule with a tremendous 23-7
ledger, which included an equally impressive 13-3 mark in the league
action. This is the sixth appearance for the Eagles in the past eight
seasons, and while that may seem like an accomplishment in itself, the team
is still in search of its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the team has not done well against teams from
the SEC, posting a 1-17 mark against SEC foes. This will be the second-ever
meeting between Tennessee and Winthrop. The last time these two squads
clashed, the Vols got the better of Winthrop, 75-62.

The Eagles were solid at both ends of the court throughout the season,
especially defensively, as the team topped the Big South with just 61.1 ppg
allowed on the season. Opponents shot a meager 39.9 percent from the field
against the Eagles, including an equally poor 31.9 percent showing from long
range. The Eagles also forced their opponents into 17.4 turnovers per outing,
while recording 9.7 steals per game. Winthrop averaged 5.5 rpg more than its
opponents, and dominated the offensive glass, collecting 36.4 rpg. At the
offensive end of the court, the Eagles are averaging a solid 73.8 ppg, while
shooting a healthy 45.0 percent from the floor. Torrell Martin and James
Shuler were both tremendous throughout the year offensively, as Martin led the
squad with 13.8 ppg, and 5.4 rpg, while Shuler averaged 13.4 ppg to go along
with 101 assists on the season. Craig Bradshaw rounded out the double-figure
scorers with 12.9 ppg, but the big man led the team with 6.0 rpg and 30
blocked shots.

As for the Vols, they come into the tournament as one of the more explosive
teams at the offensive end of the court. On the season, Tennessee averaged a
whopping 81.3 ppg, which included an impressive 46.7 percent shooting effort
from the field. Tennessee averaged three rpg less than its opponent on the
season, but the team countered its rebounding struggles by taking care of the
basketball, committing just 12.9 turnovers per matchup. Leading the way for
the Vols all season has been Chris Lofton. Lofton is averaging a team-high
17.3 ppg for the Vols, and has been tremendous from long range, making 45.3
percent of his shots from behind the arc. The guard is also extremely solid at
the foul line, making an outstanding 91.7 percent of his attempts. C.J.
Watson and Major Wingate have also made solid contributions on the season, as
Watson is producing 15.3 ppg, while Wingate is posting 10.3 ppg. Watson also
leads the team with 114 assists and could also be considered a threat from
outside, connecting on 43.0 percent of his attempts from long range on the