Vols hold off UT Martin, 68-62

From left, Tennessee's Cameron Tatum, Scotty Hopson, and Tobias Harris surround UT Martin's Dane Smith.

Photo by Saul Young

From left, Tennessee's Cameron Tatum, Scotty Hopson, and Tobias Harris surround UT Martin's Dane Smith.

UT coach Bruce Pearl on narrow win over UT Martin

What most expected to be a ho-hum, warm-up game for the Tennessee men’s basketball team to get back on track turned into a battle Wednesday night.

The Vols won 68-62 over UT Martin before an anxious crowd of 17,481 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

“Sometimes, you have these kind of games,’’ said UT junior Scotty Hopson, who scored a team-high 17 points. “You just have to grind them out.’’

The Vols (9-3) entered the game as a 29-point favorite, but needed to hit nine of 10 free throws over the final 5:18.

The Skyhawks (4-10) were coming off a 100-40 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night, yet still managed to out-rebound UT 35-30 and lead much of Wednesday’s game.

The score was tied 58-58 before Tobias Harris hit a shot with 2:48 left that gave Tennessee the lead for good.

Harris, playing with a cold and a short night’s rest, scored 13 points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.

The freshman missed the first start of his UT career after missing the two days of game preparation. Harris’ return flight from New York was delayed after he traveled home over the holiday break, and he didn’t return to Knoxville until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Vols’ struggles had little to do with Steven Pearl making his first career start in Harris’ place and more to do with the Skyhawks’ quickness.

“We could draw some comparisons from this game to the game against Indianapolis, I hate to bring that up,’’ said UT coach Bruce Pearl, whose Vols suffered an embarrassing 79-64 exhibition loss to the Division II school on Nov. 8. “(UT Martin) was so small, and undersized, that when we weren’t able to take over at the beginning of the game, establish ourselves on the inside, all the sudden they spread the floor, run the shot clock down, and take some shots.’’

The Skyhawks were making their shots early, hitting at a .517 clip in the first half including 6-of-13 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

UT Martin closed the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 36-32 lead going into halftime.

That led to Bruce Pearl making schematic and personnel adjustments at halftime for the Skyhawks’ 3-2 zone — a defense the Vols hadn’t seen this season.

UT starting center Brian Williams didn’t play in the second half, as Pearl turned the post over to sophomore Kenny Hall and senior John Fields.

The Vols reclaimed the lead for the first time since the 3:50 mark of the first half when Jeronne Maymon hit a put-back basket with 11:20 left for a 48-47 lead.

UT Martin was back in front after Reuben Clayton (21 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the second giving the Skyhawks a 55-53 lead at the 5:22 mark.

Vols freshman point guard Trae Golden tied it up at 55-55 with a pair of free throws with 5:18 remaining.

It remained a one-possession game until a Harris basket with 1:06 left made it 62-58.

“I was a little flat coming out, and I had to get my rhythm back,’’ said Harris, who after shooting 1-for-5 in the first half scored 11 points down the stretch. “I didn’t expect to start, that’s the rule when you miss the day before the game. I just knew I had to pick it up in the second half.’’

Hopson, who carried the Vols through a sluggish first half with 12 points, said UT’s experience in close games of late paid dividends.

“It was just knowing we could execute late in the game,’’ said Hopson, who was 5-of-12 shooting from the floor, 3-of-5 beyond the arc and 4-for-4 at the foul line. “I think Melvin (Goins) did a great job keeping us poised at the end.’’

Bruce Pearl said guard Skylar McBee was available to play, but after missing the two days of game preparation he was still running a low-grade fever. Josh Bone played in his place.

Bone, appearing for the first time since injuring his wrist in the Nov. 3 exhibition opener, missed the only shot he took in his 10 minutes and had one assist, one turnover and a rebound.

Bruce Pearl said Maymon would have started at the four in place of Harris, but he was also a day late returning from the holiday break on account of a flight delay, so he gave his son, Steven, the start.

Steven Pearl played only 12 minutes, but he saw action on the wing, at power forward and at center.

“Steven is a very versatile player,’’ Harris said. “At times he played everywhere, and that makes him a great complimentary player for our team.’’

Tennessee returns to action at 2 p.m. Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena against the College of Charleston (8-4).

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Comments » 138

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

An ugly win, but still a win!!! Every area of this team NEEDS to get better...They play up or down to competition..I remember the days when Pearl's team would blow out teams like this..Hopefully, those days will return.

dmcintosh writes:

And if you want to see the rest of the story, you'll need to go to GVX247.

SummittsCourt writes:

Another win but feels like a loss.

No passion, energy, hustle or real desire at all. Once is acceptable, but 5 games in a row is unacceptable. This team is just going through the motions. There is no chemistry, silly fouls, bad shots, selfish play all signs of a team that has tuned their coach out.

I live in Charleston, SC and trust me on this, if this team doesn't get it together C of C will blow them out Friday.

kdub writes:

Griffy Boy, it sure looks to me like Coach Pearl lacks his usual passion, i wonder if he and team know he's history after NCAA ruling cuz something is definitely amiss. there is ZERO excuse for UTM to even be within 20 points, our guys were asleep and have been for about 5 games now. things better change or we r NIT bound.

RoadTrip writes:

SP got his 12 minutes in with a grand total of 2 assists, no points, no rebounds, no steals. At least McBee sat it out. How does Goins play PG for most of the game and have only 1 assist? How is that possible if you are even halfway trying?

Who are these guys? Where did the team go that was confident and played hard for 40 minutes?

FlagwriterVol writes:

This team needs to find a leader that will reign in all the young players. No one is taking charge on the floor. I see a bunch of talented players running around and trying to be the man. What a great "team" with a lot of talent - just need to gel as a "team."

DebKY writes:

The announcers were right on target commenting about the excessive number of players being played. This is definitely affecting the chemistry of the team!
Couldn't believe baby Pearl was playing at the end of the game. I guess daddy is going to say that they wouldn't have won without him!
This would have been a devastating loss.
Hopefully, we will see the best players getting more minutes while Pearl is out of action!

Boogie writes:

I want to see this starting five line up just one time. Goins at the 1, Hopson at the 2, Harris at the 3, Maymon at the 4, and Williams at the 5. This line up has not been in the game one time this year. Maymon can be Tyler Smith when he was a sophmore when no one could key on him with all our weapons around him.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Maybe I am missing some news, but where was Brian Williams? Gonna be a very long season for this team.

tapeworm writes:

Does anybody know where UT's basketball team went? Seems like they showed up for the first seven games, but then their doppelgangers took over. Same thing happened to their coach this past summer.

RoadTrip writes:

SP played more minutes than Williams, Bone, McRae, Maymon and Fields. He plays at the end of the game when it was still up for grabs. He has no production other than 2 assists. What is going on over there? Why is the athletic department putting up with this?

If the team starts losing because of the sorry subbing, the money stops coming in because the fans stop supporting the program. That's something they ought to understand and remember, It hasn't been that long ago.

MikeInTN writes:

Is it just me or does anyone else think the NCAA is going to hammer U.T. with major sanctions, and Pearl is going to be history? It almost feels like Pearl, and his staff knows what's coming, and the team is sensing it too.

huntined#565710 writes:

WOW that was too close for comfort.. But some other teams are not playing well against lower teams.. When we played a full court press and run in the past we needed to play a lot of players but now we are just half court the game is slower so we don't need to sub every 3-5 min. We missed a lot of rebounds in this game as none of our players hit the boards and just waited for the ball to come to them.

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict:

UT 80
C Charleston 60 finally a blow out!

fpcoach writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

SP got his 12 minutes in with a grand total of 2 assists, no points, no rebounds, no steals. At least McBee sat it out. How does Goins play PG for most of the game and have only 1 assist? How is that possible if you are even halfway trying?

Who are these guys? Where did the team go that was confident and played hard for 40 minutes?

It is easy to have 1 assist when your team mates miss easy layups and wide open shots. I understand bad offense, but there is no excuse for the pitiful d. Still love my Vols. GBO

bigdisbig writes:

I'm sorry but Pearl has lost his coaching abilities. He will not be back next year if this team continues on the path they are on. UT MARTIN? They lost by 60 to Ohio State for God's sake!!
I would play Tobias Harris with a broke leg in a cast over Steve Pearl. I strongly feel that Pearl knows he is gone and that is why he continues to play his incapable son. There is not a coach in the SEC that would start Steve Pearl. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS GUY???? HAS HE LOST HIS MIND?

He has no contract and he knows he will not be back people. It may because of the NCAA he won't be back or it may be because he just wants out but HE WILL NOT BE BACK NEXT YEAR.

This team will finish last in the SEC east for if they struggle with UT Martin at home they will NOT win an SEC game away or at home. This win was embarassing.

username writes:

Didn't watch or listen to the game, but followed it online. Something is definitely amiss. How does this team go from elite to average so quickly with the same players? It's almost as if Maymon coming aboard made us worse. Maybe we need to go down to 7-8 players and take our chances.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Maybe I am missing some news, but where was Brian Williams? Gonna be a very long season for this team.

Williams was benched and didn't play in the second half. This team saw the outcome of UTM and OSU and thought they only had to show up to win. Very lackluster game with not much energy from UT. Maybe this game will wake them up. They seam to play well against major opponents, but play down to lesser teams. These kind of performances wont help get them to the show much conference wins. Very ugly win, but a win just the same. GBO!!!

tapeworm writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

SP played more minutes than Williams, Bone, McRae, Maymon and Fields. He plays at the end of the game when it was still up for grabs. He has no production other than 2 assists. What is going on over there? Why is the athletic department putting up with this?

If the team starts losing because of the sorry subbing, the money stops coming in because the fans stop supporting the program. That's something they ought to understand and remember, It hasn't been that long ago.

I hear you, man. But the question I have is how has the substitution pattern changed since we beat teams like Villanova and Pitt? I don't think it's been that different. I remember SPearl having a great game against Pitt. There's something else at play here.

kazoo writes:

All this because of a cookout? Pearl should not have lied, of course--but his cookout was pretty small potatoes as recruiting violations go, no? The whole episode has been blown totally out of proportion, IMO. But yea, what the hell happened to the team that beat nova and pitt?

Ironcity writes:

Didn't see the game thank goodness. Looking at the box score it looks like teams are controlling tempo and UT can't handle it. Goins with one assist. He may have the least assist for a point guard in the country. At least he only turned it over once. This is an odd season. I guess we should be happy that we actually have as many wins as we do.

huntined#565710 writes:

Right now I would not give any team on our schedule 10 points.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

Williams was benched and didn't play in the second half. This team saw the outcome of UTM and OSU and thought they only had to show up to win. Very lackluster game with not much energy from UT. Maybe this game will wake them up. They seam to play well against major opponents, but play down to lesser teams. These kind of performances wont help get them to the show much conference wins. Very ugly win, but a win just the same. GBO!!!

much less conference wins

midnite__VOL writes:

Who will be the next coach?

wigmeister writes:

Ohio State destroyed this team. It truly shows how bad we really are. I don't quite know what were missing, but this team just doesn't have it. I have no confidence in the long range possibilities for this team. They were just awful. Not one real star on the team. Just a bunch of mediocre players, playing mediocre basketball.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to dmcintosh:

And if you want to see the rest of the story, you'll need to go to GVX247.

HA! Good one!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Is it just me or does anyone else think the NCAA is going to hammer U.T. with major sanctions, and Pearl is going to be history? It almost feels like Pearl, and his staff knows what's coming, and the team is sensing it too.

I hate to think so, but I think you're on to something. There's just no logical explanation as to why they seemed to have forgotten how to play Bball... seems like they've lost focus.

wigmeister writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're right!

RoadTrip writes:

in response to tapeworm:

I hear you, man. But the question I have is how has the substitution pattern changed since we beat teams like Villanova and Pitt? I don't think it's been that different. I remember SPearl having a great game against Pitt. There's something else at play here.

You are probably right on the subbing pattern not being different. My only comment on that is that the other teams scout that pattern and match theirs up accordingly since ours is essentially the same every game. They all have seen that funky zone (1-2-2 or 3-2 ,whatever) gets them confused and standing around. The coaches have seen it enough by now to know what to do. yet, it is the same result each game.

I agree - something else is in play and its probably a 1 year suspension and possibly other violations that have popped up. The team is not playing as a team anymore, like their bubble has burst.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

I know Bruce is one of the best coaches around, but I also know everyone has a weakness and the coach's weakness is no doubt his substitution pattern.

There is just no way a team can win consistently by playing 12 or 14 players.Period. This experiment has cost us 3 losses already and has probably cost us 2-4 spots in the seeding for the tourney. If we don't get down 8 or 9 man rotation, we won't make the tourney. It is starting to get hard to watch these hum-drum games like tonight.

In my humble opinion we need to cut it down to a rotation similar to this
Hopson, Tobias, Goins, Tatum, Williams
subs - Fields, Maymon, Mcrae, (occasional Golden)

Goins is gonna hafta start dishing off assists. A PG can not just go around dribbling around the perimeter for 15 seconds. This is not helping our offensive production a bit.

Now you can rip me.

dvols writes:

tn does not just have as much talent as you all have been told...

midnite__VOL writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

I hate to think so, but I think you're on to something. There's just no logical explanation as to why they seemed to have forgotten how to play Bball... seems like they've lost focus.

The NCAA has said the coaches should be held responsible as the players are. When a player lies there is a one year suspension, one has to think CBP will get at least one year, I just hope the university don't get anything from his action, but don't bet on it.

Ironcity writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I know Bruce is one of the best coaches around, but I also know everyone has a weakness and the coach's weakness is no doubt his substitution pattern.

There is just no way a team can win consistently by playing 12 or 14 players.Period. This experiment has cost us 3 losses already and has probably cost us 2-4 spots in the seeding for the tourney. If we don't get down 8 or 9 man rotation, we won't make the tourney. It is starting to get hard to watch these hum-drum games like tonight.

In my humble opinion we need to cut it down to a rotation similar to this
Hopson, Tobias, Goins, Tatum, Williams
subs - Fields, Maymon, Mcrae, (occasional Golden)

Goins is gonna hafta start dishing off assists. A PG can not just go around dribbling around the perimeter for 15 seconds. This is not helping our offensive production a bit.

Now you can rip me.

Its not the sub issues. No point guard means no one gets on the flow. Goins is not a true point except in size only. He will not start by the end of the year. Its unfortunate because he really puts out effort but he just doesn't have the skill or he just doesn't get it.

Ironcity writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

I'm sorry but Pearl has lost his coaching abilities. He will not be back next year if this team continues on the path they are on. UT MARTIN? They lost by 60 to Ohio State for God's sake!!
I would play Tobias Harris with a broke leg in a cast over Steve Pearl. I strongly feel that Pearl knows he is gone and that is why he continues to play his incapable son. There is not a coach in the SEC that would start Steve Pearl. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS GUY???? HAS HE LOST HIS MIND?

He has no contract and he knows he will not be back people. It may because of the NCAA he won't be back or it may be because he just wants out but HE WILL NOT BE BACK NEXT YEAR.

This team will finish last in the SEC east for if they struggle with UT Martin at home they will NOT win an SEC game away or at home. This win was embarassing.

Your wrong on every issue.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, I don't understand it either. People act like he's supposed to be some major offensive threat... HELLO PEOPLE! He's used for defense! Right now he's played just as well if not better on defense as anyone else! Really, stop the blame Stephen Pearl c-r-a-p, b/c it's getting old!

clvolfan writes:

in response to midnite__VOL:

Who will be the next coach?

What is the AD going to do if Jones takes over for the first 8 SEC games,and wins with the team looking great?Might be a situation similar to CPF taking the reigns from CJM. Just a thought.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to dvols:

tn does not just have as much talent as you all have been told...

Right... 'Nova and Pitt just happened to have bad games at the right time!

midnite__VOL writes:

in response to clvolfan:

What is the AD going to do if Jones takes over for the first 8 SEC games,and wins with the team looking great?Might be a situation similar to CPF taking the reigns from CJM. Just a thought.

Does Jones have a contract? CBP doesn't, so it wouldn't be hard to just terminate him.

lomas98 writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True. He started and didn't see the floor again until last 6 minutes of game. What happened in between? SP is the easy excuse for people to pick on because he has no offensive game and is the coaches son. He will not score more than 6 points in a game all year so I'm not sure why everyone thinks he will. He did switch on defense like he was supposed to and boxed out his man which is half of the game. TN really hasn't looked good all year with the exception of the 2 big east wins and MTSU. Squeaked out wins against everyone else and lost to and exhibition team. Those 2 wins will mean a lot but won't mean anything if they keep this up.

dvols writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

Right... 'Nova and Pitt just happened to have bad games at the right time!

the big east is in ESPN's back yard.... they get overhyped...they have no football so they promote their 16 team big east conference...

Boogie writes:

in response to midnite__VOL:

The NCAA has said the coaches should be held responsible as the players are. When a player lies there is a one year suspension, one has to think CBP will get at least one year, I just hope the university don't get anything from his action, but don't bet on it.

Midnite_Vol,
I continue to hear guys like you comparing players to coaches. The NCAA views the two (players vs. coaches) different. A player come and goes from a university, but a coach, it's his profession. You can't view CBP to lying to NCAA, and compare it to Dez Bryant at Oka State. The two are not the same in the NCAA eyes.

lomas98 writes:

in response to clvolfan:

What is the AD going to do if Jones takes over for the first 8 SEC games,and wins with the team looking great?Might be a situation similar to CPF taking the reigns from CJM. Just a thought.

I have thought that since the suspension was announced. Have you looked at the first 8 SEC games compared to the last 8? It is almost set up for what you said could happen. Throw in a non conference game at UCONN and the schedule is twice as difficult for the games Pearl is able to coach. I think he should just sit out the UCONN game as well just to not be a distraction. In reality though, the way this team has played recently they will have a tough time going 4-4 the first 8. AFter the Pitt game it looked like 7-1 or 6-2 was possible.

midnite__VOL writes:

I saw the interview with the NCAA and that was his very words when asked the question.

Boogie writes:

in response to midnite__VOL:

I saw the interview with the NCAA and that was his very words when asked the question.

Then who was the last coach in any sport suspended for a year for lying to the NCAA then?

midnite__VOL writes:

in response to Boogie:

Then who was the last coach in any sport suspended for a year for lying to the NCAA then?

I haven't heard of any foolish enough to lie to the NCAA. Does anyone know of one who has?

VolsJoy writes:

in response to FlagwriterVol:

This team needs to find a leader that will reign in all the young players. No one is taking charge on the floor. I see a bunch of talented players running around and trying to be the man. What a great "team" with a lot of talent - just need to gel as a "team."

I agree, this team is on a down hill slide and if they don't find a way to work out their problems they will end up last in the SEC. Its a shame when they started the season playing like champions. I watched the side-lines tonight and our high scorer had about as much excitement going on the floor as someone going to the dentist.

RoadTrip writes:

CBP's game is offense. It is has not been a defense first style - ever. Score over 80 and run the court. Even the defense is set up for the offense. Go full court, man to man D, steal the ball in the passing lanes to get transition buckets and make sure you get at least as many rebounds as the other team. Yet he has recruited a bunch of players that do not play that style well, as he has said publicly.

So can the coaches handle the change in style if the players can't do what the coaches like to do? And why did they recruit players that don't handle the preferred style well?

midnite__VOL writes:

If CBP is suspended by the NCAA for a year, what will the AD do?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

UTM shot the heck out of the ball!! I know part of that was our lack of D...but they made a lot of shots and scrambled for the rebounds and loose balls. Their defense was pretty bad or they would have won on their shooting alone. For the most part we looked ok on offense...well good enough...just enough, but our defensive intensity was not there the whole game and it wasn't much the last game. A better team would have killed us.
That said, why are we trying to blame a poor team effort on our only scrappers...Can't blame McBee 'cause he was out sick. Can't blame Pearl for some other's poor play, or the bigs standing around flatfooted. Fields hustled but again was a little uncontrolled. Maymon and Hall only showed up on offense. Our best players were Scotty and Harris effort-wise and Harris was just over being sick. Just a bad team effort on defense.
But we still won. We are what...9-3? Yes we should be 12-0, but so should a few other teams out there in the SEC. Georgia barely beat Georgia Southern. We may win like this all year. It won't be as fun maybe as blowing teams out but I'll take a few 1-5 point games over anybody. Let's just win against Charlotte. We might not if we don't learn to play together. TEAM! GO TEAM.

Boogie writes:

in response to midnite__VOL:

I haven't heard of any foolish enough to lie to the NCAA. Does anyone know of one who has?

Maybe no one came forth, and admitted that they lied. That's what getting "lost in translation" by everyone. Every coach lies, you have to know that DA. Don't tell me your that stupid!

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