It was a bitter pill Antwaine Wiggins had to swallow last year when the College of Charleston men's basketball team traveled to play at then-No. 9 Tennessee.
Wiggins, who grew up just over an hour east of Knoxville, was sitting on the bench recuperating from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the entire 2009-10 season. And he had to watch the Volunteers, who made it to the Elite Eight before losing in last year's NCAA tournament, cruise to an 86-69 victory over his teammates.
"It was hard sitting there, not being able to play. I can't wait to go out there and play this year," Wiggins said of today's 2 p.m. nationally televised rematch (ESPN2) at Thompson- Boling Arena. "I feel like we've got a good team. It's going to be a lot more competitive game. This is a good opportunity for this team. Our team chemistry is the best it's been since I've been here."
The Cougars (8-4) will be trying to rebound from a 66-59 loss to Clemson on Dec.22, Charleston's only home loss this year. Tennessee (9-3), ranked as high as No. 7 this season with a win at No. 6 Pittsburgh, has bounced back from a three-game losing streak with two straight wins but is not in the AP Top 25.
"I've seen them play. They are kind of down. Right now will be the best time for us to go out there and get them. We're ready to play anybody," said Wiggins, who is averaging 6.3 points and 5.6 rebounds.
This is the first of four straight road games for the Cougars, who play at Morehead (Ky.) State on Jan. 2 before returning to Charleston. The Cougars then travel to Furman on Jan. 6 and Wofford on Jan. 8.
"We've got a tough stretch, but we have to hang in there," said Cougars coach Bobby Cremins. "(The Volunteers) have been in a little slump, but we all know what they are capable of doing. They've had some great wins. It will be a great game for us, a great atmosphere."
Cremins said he was disappointed in the Cougars' loss to Clemson, Charleston's third loss to an ACC school this season. The Tigers double-teamed Andrew Goudelock, forcing other players to make plays.
"We've been messing around with that a little bit, trying to come up with some alternatives," Cremins said. "They're trying to frustrate Drew and make other players make plays. That's good strategy and we've got to work on it. We have to react to it.
"The positive thing about that game is that we had a chance. But we didn't play our game, and now we have what is probably our toughest stretch."
--Goudelock now has 1,976 career points, No. 2 on the school's career scoring list behind Ken Gustafson (1972-75) with 2,135.