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My answer to Mike's question is that PROOF is a strong word. It is a judgment that can be made only after all the EVIDENCE is in. The UK game is one strong piece of evidence that they CAN make a stirring run. As I have said before, there have been previous signs that the team was improving in several critical areas, though too often masked by sloppy ball-handling.
To me, the best sign yesterday was that the Vols romped WITHOUT dramatic scoring outbursts by Stokes and McRae. Golden did have such an outburst, but not by doing things he can't do on a fairly regular basis. In short, the only thing truly extraordinary about the UK game was that the Vols AS A TEAM did all the ORDINARY things good teams do to win as a matter of habit. They have assembled all the elements of a formula that should be repeatable. Can they still stumble? Of course. It will be a major test of their maturity and poise to keep it going when the opponent is less distinguished and the crowd is not so supportive and the outside shots aren't falling and the national spotlight isn't on them. They could again be sabotaged by illness or injury.
Still, I think yesterday's game was the culmination of a process the team has been perfecting even when the final results were less than ideal. It all came together for them yesterday. It is now up to them to KEEP it together by just doing what they have mostly BEEN doing for a few weeks now. If they can keep this habit of strong TEAM play going, then we can be sure that they have PROVEN a strong case for, dare I say it, the NCAAs.
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