Toast on coast: Southern Cal dumps Vols, 77-55

Vols unable to make 3-pointers (2 of 22)

By Mike Griffith

griffithm@knoxnews.com

LOS ANGELES — Tennessee knew all about Southern Cal coach Kevin O’Neill and his penchant for tight defense and a slow, deliberate offense.

But senior point guard Mike Gerrity was quite a surprise Saturday afternoon at the Galen Center.

Gerrity, a 23-year-old transfer, was made eligible just in time to score 12 points and dish out 10 assists to lead USC (5-4) to a shocking 77-55 victory over the ninth-ranked Vols (8-2).

“Gerrity, omigosh, the guy hadn’t played in 21 months, and he comes out and dominated the game,’’ UT coach Bruce Pearl said. “Kevin obviously knows what a difference he makes, because he played him 37 minutes.’’

Gerrity, who started his career at Pepperdine before transferring to Charlotte and ultimately USC, was granted an academic waiver by the NCAA early Saturday.

Point guard play was only part of the story; the Trojans’ rebounding dominance (43-21), and UT’s poor perimeter shooting (2 of 22 from 3-point range) also led to the improbable blowout.

“We caught them on a night they didn’t shoot well,’’ said O’Neill, who was coach at UT for three seasons (1994-97). “If we played them 10 times, I don’t think we’d come out 6-4.’’

Unless the Vols were to have another of the worst shooting nights in Pearl’s UT tenure — the two 3-pointers made were the lowest in his five years as coach in Knoxville.

“Early in the game we had good looks and didn’t make them, and it was contagious,’’ said Pearl, whose team was favored by 11. “We just didn’t seem to have any energy.’’

The Vols arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night, but their offense never showed up. Sophomore Scotty Hopson led the Vols with 16 points while junior guard Melvin Goins had 10.

Shooting guard Dwight Lewis lit up the Vols for 21 points, while big men Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic recorded double-doubles. Stepheson, a 6-foot-9 transfer from North Carolina, had 19 points and 15 rebounds. Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Vols’ plan was to hit open threes and attack the rim when opportunities were presented.

“All of the 3-pointers were wide open, they really sagged on defense,’’ said UT senior Wayne Chism, who suffered through a 1-of-7 shooting game beyond the arc. “It was just one of those games.’’

The one 3-pointer Chism hit, at the 4:14 mark of the first half, tied the game at 19-19. It appeared at that time the Vols could compete at O’Neill’s snail-like pace.

But the Trojans caught fire, closing the first half on a 14-1 run to excite a sparse crowd of 4,523 that included USC football coach Pete Carroll.

O’Neill said he knew the Trojans were in good shape, having neutralized 6-7 forward Tyler Smith by fronting him in the paint with the 6-10 Vucevic.

“When (Smith) catches in the paint or drives in the paint, he’s as good as there is in the country at making plays,’’ said O’Neill, the first former UT coach to face the Vols since 1990 when Don DeVoe was at Florida. “I thought at halftime if we could come out and not let them barrage us the first seven or eight minutes, we had a good chance.’’

Tennessee’s shooting woes continued on the perimeter and at the free-throw line in the second half. The Vols made 13 of 25 (.520) from the line and failed to score outside the paint the second half.

USC opened the second half with a three-point play by Vucevic, and the biggest run UT managed thereafter was 4-0, never drawing closer than 12 points.

“That was an amazing reality check, and it shows we have a lot more work to do,’’ said Smith, who was held to three points and one assists. “I apologized to my teammates. I wasn’t aggressive enough making plays.’’

The Vols were scheduled to leave Los Angeles shortly before midnight and return to Knoxville this morning.

Tennessee returns to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday against North Carolina A&T at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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Comments » 222

dbc5361 writes:

Bruce Pearl and that team are all TOOLS. I loved how the headbands came off once the beat down began. Might want to get some basketball players instead of athletes biggggg!!!!

1vavolfan writes:

I can't wait to see what John Wall does to us. Mike Garrity looked like Steve NAsh with Maze and Goins chasing him around all day. I didn't think it was possible but our point guard play is worse than last year. My worst fears were confirmed today, this is the same team we had last year just slightly better.

huntined#565710 writes:

What can you say..we just got our tails beat!!!
like I said in earlier post..KY-BETTER FLA-BETTER-TENN SAME!!! This was not a # 9 team and we knew it...Guess we can just call this BLACK FRIDAY.As we lost two today...

MemphisVol writes:

PATHETIC. EMBARRASSING. no hustle. no heart. no half court offense. terrible Defense. terrible rebounding. terrible coaching. terrible that our coach wears a t-shirt with a suit. What is going on with the basketball program?

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Wow!! Was the entire team on those LA drugs?? Guys, Maze is not an SEC caliber point guard. It was an ole` defense all night on Garrity. Tyler will not be in the NBA next yr. Chism is not NBA caliber, Scotty will play college ball 4 yrs. and can Pearl do any coaching? No question he can recruit but he can not get the full potential out of his players. I can see a couple players having a bad night, but we had 8 players having a bad night and only lost by 20 (should have been 30).

No, I am not a 'troll or interloper, just a hugely disappointed fan. Our best team since Ernie and Bernie and again we will be one and done. Frustrating.

eduardo writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

I can't wait to see what John Wall does to us. Mike Garrity looked like Steve NAsh with Maze and Goins chasing him around all day. I didn't think it was possible but our point guard play is worse than last year. My worst fears were confirmed today, this is the same team we had last year just slightly better.

you said it bro!!!!!!!

midnite__VOL writes:

I must say CBP’s team passes the ball around the 3 point line effectively.

eduardo writes:

why so much pressure on a guy dribbling the ball all over the place not looking for his shot??????????

eduardo writes:

bad coaching no other way to address it

great_2B_Vol writes:

Coach Pearl, you promised us when you took the Tennessee job that your players would never get outworked. While it doesn't happen often, tonight was one of those times. This game mattered to Tennessee fans because of who the opposing coach was. Their team outworked us, their coaches out-worked you and your staff. Please stop treating your "Super-stars" with kid gloves. This game was a joke and embarrassing!

dbc5361 writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The Witch Doctor is a joke. Grown folks say he is nothing more than a "glass half full" fan of teenage boys at a school with an unlimited budget and win at all costs attitude. Results? Marginal at best but just you wait, one day soon!
Kevin O'Neill sends his regards.

eduardo writes:

i told you people that O'Neil was the reason for Uncle Jed's success. no doubt about it the dude can flat out coach.

chad_t31 writes:

Personally, I'm tired of seeing all the 3s jacked up with no one under the basket to rebound...and that's including when chism isn't launching them! Pathetic effort. FT shooting was God-awful as well. Tyler smith--where'd u go? JP and Cameron--well, JP when u graduate, take Tatum with u. Offensively we looked out of sync all day long. This team better wake up quick-like. Memphis and Kansas are just around the corner. How in the hell do u let a team like USC abuse u like that?? Unbelievable.

kazoo writes:

2 for 22 on treys? Oh, my: That's pathetic. Maybe they should have stopped taking threes after going 1 for 16 or so! Is USC even ranked?

Orangeblood13 writes:

lol

Trolls come out in droves at first peek. Hey we got beat, but the season is far from over.

Unispired as it looked and was, I think an arse whipping now, will bring dividends later

and dbc and listen to the music, you guys need a room

WitchDoctor is above you boys, has better things to do

eduardo writes:

in response to kazoo:

2 for 22 on treys? Oh, my: That's pathetic. Maybe they should have stopped taking threes after going 1 for 16 or so! Is USC even ranked?

#350 out of 350

midnite__VOL writes:

in response to kazoo:

2 for 22 on treys? Oh, my: That's pathetic. Maybe they should have stopped taking threes after going 1 for 16 or so! Is USC even ranked?

I don’t think a team being ranked has anything to do with a game. It’s the team which plays with heart, passion and wants to win.

chrisw2967 writes:

this falls on Pearl,there is no discipline at all with this team,just a bunch of streetballers.cant play def. no set plays on off. cant shoot free throws.wih 5 mins left and down 22 pearl is on the sideline clapping cause we scored.this team will be lucky to get into the tourney.Pearl needs to start coaching and take control of this team.this is getting pathetic,they look almost the same as they did last year but worse.

volmanohio writes:

Arguably one of if not the worst losses in the Pearl era...They didn't adjust to the time zone change well, only had 8 balls to practice with yesterday, you think that affected the shooting? Not the team I saw play Purdue...

ahouseho#651452 writes:

The players for both teams tonight must not have gotten much sleep last night but they caught up on the floor tonight. Enough said.

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

in response to dbc5361:

Bruce Pearl and that team are all TOOLS. I loved how the headbands came off once the beat down began. Might want to get some basketball players instead of athletes biggggg!!!!

Those head bands are a reflexion of _______ .
Burn the darn things .

seacondor writes:

in response to dbc5361:

The Witch Doctor is a joke. Grown folks say he is nothing more than a "glass half full" fan of teenage boys at a school with an unlimited budget and win at all costs attitude. Results? Marginal at best but just you wait, one day soon!
Kevin O'Neill sends his regards.

I wouldn't pick on the Doctor. We can find you...

bobbarbilly writes:

My question is how did this Garrity kid fly over UT and all the way to the west coast to play basketball.

eduardo writes:

blame the tall guy

fundamentals83 writes:

Pack your bags Tyler, you're playing in Europe.... Maybe. Leader or follower, I say follower.

798orange writes:

This performance causes me to ask if the purpose of the trip was to play a basketball game or go sightseeing. I guess the highlight was Pearl being a guest on the Jim Rome show. Seriously, I don't understand how an experienced team with 4 seniors gets their butts kicked by a team that lost 6 of its players from last year and has a new coach. I really thought this team can go places, but now I suppose I should lower my expectations considerably.

Sovol writes:

Somebody wake me up when this season is over.

murrayvol writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We were a bit stunned as well Cat....and will remain so for a few days.

nvavol writes:

This was a total embarassment. They were beaten in every aspect of the game. I'm beginning to think that this team is nothing more than a bunch of "street ball players" and that in the only game that Pearl knows how to coach. I've been a Pearl supporter since he arrived, but it's getting worse. No structure, no game plan apparently other than to just run up and down the floor and pass the ball around the 3 pt. line, then fire up a wild one. Pearl just stands on the sideline and claps his hands (maybe he's the Fulmer of basketball) and pats them on the butt when they come off the floor. It's becoming pretty apparent that he is not a bench coach. At this rate, Kentucky and Florida will beat them like a "rented mule".

murrayvol writes:

Jet lag.

mcdevitt#229126 writes:

worst game I have watched the Vols play since good ole Jerry. Lots of talent and zero coaching. Bruce got schooled today. Out coached and lost his shirt, pants, jacket, socks, etc. Too bad we have zero half court offense. Guess we saw the real Vols today. Still cannot win on the road. Players looked flat and out of their element. There is absolutely no half court offensive. Why can we not get the ball to the post and make layups. A number of times early in the game, perimeter shots were taken with absolutely no one under the basket to rebound. What kind of offensive has all five players on the perimeter for the entire 45 second clock.

Bruce you better go back and figure out how to score in the 1/2 court since your entire hand has been shown to the SEC. Can't wait to see what LSU, SC, Ole Miss, Miss State, Kentucky and Florida do to us. This will be another Jerry Greene under achieving team.

1vavolfan writes:

I thought that worst case scenario USC plays its game of the year and squeaks by us by 5-6 points. Championship caliber teams do not lose by 22 pints to anyone, much less a team picked to finish next to last in the Pac 10. I am a season ticket holder and last year I had to personally witness all of the good teams we played except Florida beating us on our home court.If I remember correclty 6 losses on our home court including Alabama. There will be much of the same this year with an improved SEC. This is last years team with the same heartless leaders and show offs that wont win big games and will not show up to play half the time.

Madkels writes:

Didn't see the game..had to work. But from what I gather is it was more of the same. No half court offense of defense. It seems this team can only score in transition. With no outside threat or half court offense, it seems that to beat this team, you need to collapse and keep the ball out on the perimeter. Not getting too excited about this team.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to nvavol:

This was a total embarassment. They were beaten in every aspect of the game. I'm beginning to think that this team is nothing more than a bunch of "street ball players" and that in the only game that Pearl knows how to coach. I've been a Pearl supporter since he arrived, but it's getting worse. No structure, no game plan apparently other than to just run up and down the floor and pass the ball around the 3 pt. line, then fire up a wild one. Pearl just stands on the sideline and claps his hands (maybe he's the Fulmer of basketball) and pats them on the butt when they come off the floor. It's becoming pretty apparent that he is not a bench coach. At this rate, Kentucky and Florida will beat them like a "rented mule".

Pearl is not a bench coach , he doesn't even controll substitutions, Tony Jones does. I'm not aware of anyone else in D1 who does this, at least not anyone who can coach

eduardo writes:

repeat of last yr. zero team chemistry. cant even get into the press right unless coach is screaming at them. not a ver smart bball team.

Sovol writes:

in response to WeLetThemOutWhenWeReadyToLetThemOut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

totally agree.

tennisvol writes:

Looked like a lot of ole sand lot playing. Very little coaching as far as having the team ready to play. Blow out in California!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

What in the heck was that??? I always try to find positives out of negatives, but with this one folks, there were no positives. I think the VOLS forgot to pack their "Brains and Games" to take to the West Coast. Look at a few of the stats.
TN Assits...5 USC Assists...16
Rebounds.17 Rebounds..42
3pts...2~22 3pts....3~7
FTs..13~25 FTs....28~34
Blks.....0 Blks......3
FGs...20~58 FGs....23~41
Can't just blame Tyler Smith with only 3 points. The whole team played like this was their first junior high game. Will give some cred to Hopson and Goins for at least scoring in double digits.I think this game should go down as the worst Vol game in history. Whatever the "issue" was with this team for this game was, they need to get their act together in a hurry. It was a total embarrassment! Hope they will learn alot from this loss, otherwise, its going to be a long season in the SEC! Vols..TCB..Keep on keeping on...GBO!!!

MBEACHVOL writes:

We will struggle against any team that plays a disciplined half court game, or any team that is as talented as we are. For everyone saying this is last years team, you are exactly right same players same style same results.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

This team is a total fraud—---not even a legit top 25—--and as pro-pearl as I've been I'm starting to now question how good a coach he is-----so much for this "atheleticm" when its without effort--- outrebounded 43-21 , sloppy/ no execution, pathetic defense and non existent half court offense –------another game of nothing but clanking up 3s at 10% after just a 20% last game----we have noone who can halfway consistently make an open shot----just terrible shooters we have and Pearl has no clue and his only adjustment to anything is to have them just clank up more misses from afar , he has no other answer---bad players who cant make shots from far or near and appearing a coach with no clue on how to adjust-----just terrible effort to get hammered so by an unranked team-------down 13 at half and we come out in the second have fouling all over the place to put them in the bonus at the 15:00 mark to make a comeback more impossible-----and of course we shoot 52% from the line/ tatum 4 of 10------we are so overrated its rediculous----zero senior leadership/ chism clanks 6 of 7 treys and only 1 rebound and Tyler should have stayed home too---as pro-pearl ive been really disappointed at the play of this team-----noone on this team is good---only thing we good at is fouling and jacking clankers---------at least BP is always honest enough to admit it when an embarrassing effort

I suggest our koolaider refrain from talkin smack to Memphis and Kentucky

OrangeCrush writes:

Wow, was that ever ugly. Maybe this will be the wake-up call we need, or...

A lot of the guys were yawning and rubbing their eyes. Maybe they should have been rubbing their rears. No explanation needed here.

798orange writes:

Regardless of whether it would help or not, they would at least appear to be more of a disciplined team if they would get rid of those headbands. No other team has as many of their players wear those things as we do.

kdub writes:

first let me say this is just one game and I'm still totally behind Coach Pearl BUT this team has several huge deficiencies which have been exposed any time we play a team with decent guard play. we still have no true point guard to lead this team, no on court leadership at all, pathetic FT shooting as usual, no heart which is what rebounding is, no bring it every night intensity which you need to be a Top 10 team. we were exposed and shouldn't be ranked in the top 25. Kentucky and Kansas will thump us if we give this type of lackluster effort. stop reading your press clippings boys, take off your panties and play some ball with intensity, heart and hustle. NO WAY tyler or scotty make it in the NBA, there not good enough for the D league.

kdub writes:

had flashbacks to Uncle Jed days, the SC crowd got it right by chanting overrated. Coach Pearl better recruit a point guard who can handle the ball, lead the team and shoot cuz that's what is killing us. also absolutely no intensity, heart, it's beyond me how we continue to suck at rebounding and FTs. these boys need to quit reading the press clippings cuz no way this a top 10 team playing like this. this will either be the best thing to happen to them or we'll see a free fall.

james#216392 writes:

Coach P needs to hire an assistant that can coach defense. To many players drive down the middle and never get picked up. An old slow bad hair day player ate us up today, John Wall will score 100 by himself if this isn't improved,

huntined#565710 writes:

Guess I was wrong about FLA being better as they just lost to Richmond..

VOLFROMNC writes:

Awesome...I wasted four hours watching the womens and mens teams get freakin owned...the damn mens team is the same as last year...nothing has changed.

abnerPeabody writes:

Pearl is a God.Book it.Those are not my words but those of another poster.

james#216392 writes:

in response to kdub:

first let me say this is just one game and I'm still totally behind Coach Pearl BUT this team has several huge deficiencies which have been exposed any time we play a team with decent guard play. we still have no true point guard to lead this team, no on court leadership at all, pathetic FT shooting as usual, no heart which is what rebounding is, no bring it every night intensity which you need to be a Top 10 team. we were exposed and shouldn't be ranked in the top 25. Kentucky and Kansas will thump us if we give this type of lackluster effort. stop reading your press clippings boys, take off your panties and play some ball with intensity, heart and hustle. NO WAY tyler or scotty make it in the NBA, there not good enough for the D league.

I agree that Tyler is a long shot but Scotty plays with heart and pride. He is very talented, by far the best player on this team.
He hopefully will hang around another season and get stronger. Tyler had to develop a 3 point shot to have a chance. He hasn't done so.

graphpro#231211 writes:

This game was an example of street ball. Pearl PLEASE recruit SMART WHITE GUYS that can SHOOT! These black athletes play with a tons of attitude (a chip on their shoulder) and not enough talent or HEART. They must be waiting on their OBAMA check. Think this game is monumental for Pearl. It is the equivalent of the 2001 SEC Championship for Foolmer. If Pearl can't recruit a point guard or a center that can score in the paint, then he will always be average at best.

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