Nashville, Tenn. » Tyler Smith knew J.P. Prince was ready for a breakout game after watching him hit jumpers during the shootaround.
Prince followed through by scoring a season-high 17 points Friday night, and No. 9 Tennessee showed off its depth in beating Middle Tennessee 75-54 in the first game of the Sun Belt Classic doubleheader. It was a nice turnaround for the senior guard, who hadn't scored more than eight in a game this season and found himself coming off the bench.
"It was great to see him come out and play with confidence, play effectively at both ends of the floor," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.
"I'd like to see him get on the boards some, but I was really happy for J.P. He just hasn't been as productive. It's been talked about a little bit, was written about a little bit. It was all fair and right. We've been talking about it, and so he'll feel better about himself now."
Prince didn't grab a single rebound, but he hit 6 of 8 from the floor, was 4-for-5 from the foul line, blocked a shot and had a couple steals.
"He had a good workout this morning," said Smith, a senior swingman.
His play helped on a night when leading scorer Scotty Hopson was held to one point, well under his 15.7 average coming in. He missed all three of his shots.
Bobby Maze added 12 points for Tennessee (7-1).
Hoosiers face test
Indiana waited more than a year to celebrate a victory like the one over Pittsburgh.
So before the locker room became too exuberant after Tuesday night's 74-64 win, coach Tom Crean gave the Hoosiers a quick lesson about reality: He told his players they had three days to get ready for their old rival, fourth-ranked Kentucky.
As Crean knows, this is not just some ordinary Wildcats team coming to Bloomington, Ind., today (10 a.m., Ch. 2). This is a national championship contender, the best team Indiana (4-4) has faced so far and maybe the best team they'll face all season.
"You want to talk about Kentucky? They're the real deal," Crean said after the game.
Led by heralded recruit John Wall (19.0 points per game) and star forward Patrick Patterson (16.6), Kentucky is off to a 9-0 start, including wins over defending national champion North Carolina and perennial power Connecticut.
Tar Heel's foot sore
North Carolina says guard Marcus Ginyard will miss tonight's game against Presbyterian with pain in his left foot. School officials said Friday that the move is a precaution. Team doctor Tom Brickner says the senior's pain is unrelated to the stress fracture that cost him most of his 2008-09 season.
» No. 9 Tennessee 75, Middle Tennessee 54