Pearl: 'We made progress', 86-56

Tennessee forward Tobias Harris snags a rebound as Middle Tennessee forward J.T. Sulton defends at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010.  Harris scored 21 points with six rebounds during the Vols' 86-56 defeat of the Blue Raiders.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee forward Tobias Harris snags a rebound as Middle Tennessee forward J.T. Sulton defends at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. Harris scored 21 points with six rebounds during the Vols' 86-56 defeat of the Blue Raiders.

Tennessee delivered a cagey performance in what was supposed to be a trap game Tuesday night.

"The guys came back (from New York) and they were excited about playing,'' UT men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl said. "I thought we made progress tonight.''

The 13th-ranked Vols scored an 86-56 victory over Middle Tennessee State before an announced crowd of 17,084 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Freshman forward Tobias Harris scored a career-high 21 points, and junior shooting guard Scotty Hopson had 19 for Tennessee (6-0).

James Washington had 11 points, Rod Emanuel added 10, and former Fulton High School standout James Gallman had five points and two assists in the 19 minutes he played for the Blue Raiders (3-4).

"Tonight was kind of a trap game, so we just wanted to come out and play our game like we did against Villanova,'' said Harris, who had six rebounds, three steals and three assists. "Scotty came out tonight and he was hitting from the outside, so my mindset was to keep getting the ball to him knowing it would open things up for everyone else.''

Hopson scored 14 of his points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting beyond the arc as the Vols, just back from winning the NIT Season Tip-Off title and heading into finals week, took a 46-23 lead into the half.

Tennessee shot 50 percent from the floor for the game, and it came up with 16 offensive rebounds.

MTSU entered the contest out-rebounding opponents by an average of nine per game, but the Vols controlled the boards, 41-21.

"I played three centers, and together I think they combined for 18 (points) and 16 (rebounds),'' Pearl said. "The boards were very, very important.''

Starting post Brian Williams did the most damage statistically with nine points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.

There was little dropoff when Pearl turned to John Fields and Kenny Hall inside.

Fields had four points, four rebounds and three blocked shots in his 12 minutes, and Hall had eight points, three rebounds and one block in his nine minutes.

The game started with the teams exchanging scoring runs.

Tennessee jumped out to an 8-0 lead that was answered by a 10-0 MTSU run.

Then it was the Vols' turn, and this time UT put the hammer down with a 21-0 burst, holding the Blue Raiders without a basket between the 15:01 mark and 6:57 of the first half when J.T. Sulton scored to cut UT's lead to 29-12.

Hopson came back with a pair of 3-pointers, and the Vols closed the half with more momentum when Skylar McBee banked a 3-pointer from near midcourt at the buzzer.

MTSU out-scored the Vols 8-4 to start the second half, but then Harris heated up with eight straight points and the Blue Raiders couldn't get closer than 19.

"I thought Tennessee moved the ball really well,'' MTSU coach Kermit Davis said. "They played hard, played like an unselfish team.

"I give Tennessee a lot of credit. They were really physical. We couldn't get anything around the goal, and they blocked shots and intimidated us off the dribble.''

UT used 13 players, but freshman Jordan McRae didn't play. Pearl said it was a "Coach's decision,'' and that McRae "didn't do anything wrong.''

The Vols return to action at No. 3 Pittsburgh (7-0) on Dec. 11 in an ESPN-televised game. Tennessee's next home game is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 against Oakland.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Related Stories

Comments » 68

volzrock54 writes:

Nice tune up game.. Lets get ready for a tough schedule. Go Vols

TopTenn writes:

Good win, prepare for Pitt. Wow, that would be a big upset.

roobomb writes:

I love the effort on defense. Melvin Goins is like a blanket out there. Tobias Harris may be the most composed freshman we've ever had. I think he is great for Scotty, because Scotty feels like he has to keep up with him. I think we'll do OK if they combine for 40 each game.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Yeah. good game. Summitt's my hero! 9 more open shots and he would've had 30.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Griff, take a look again at your third sentence and tell me you wouldn't like to rewrite that bad boy.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

A good win! I am curious, what is Brian's vertical leap measurement? I agree his mouth needs to be shut and just play ball.

bigorange61 writes:

Summitt didn't call bank but I'll let that slide this time. Way to go Tyler.

fpcoach writes:

11 days off is a long time. You want to keep rolling when you are playing well. Love the intensity of the defense. Nice effort tonite, esp the 1st half. GBO Get ready for Pitt.

cloudodust writes:

CBP called this a trap game. Well, I did see Tennessee press on a few MTS inbounds if that's what we'll call a trap game tonight. Otherwise, I was glad to see Hall get minutes. Got a feeling we'll be needing him when SEC play gets going full swing. His D ball still needs some work. I'm thinking he'd rather be shooting...

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

JUST WIN BABY!!!

Now, let's get ready for Pittsburgh and defeat ANOTHER Big East team.

GBO!!!!

tdvol1989 writes:

MTSU was no match in anyway for the Vols. It is probably what we needed, but I can understand why Pearl was chewing on them when up by 25. I hate to see the Vols play sloppy (5 different games of 1 on 1). Hopson has got to stop jumping up in the air like a freakin' gazelle and then trying to figure out what he is doing.

Other than Hoppy Hopperson, who I will continue to criticize until he starts playing with the poise and efficiency that Frosh Harris demonstrates, these guys are really looking quite formiddable. Goins is very strong and can play defense in a Gary Payton-Glove-like manner. He can stay within an inch of a guy all over the floor. Harris is the total package. I can only hope we get 2 seasons out of him. Fields is a steal. CBP deserves major credit for finding him. Too bad it is only 1 yr. Golden has a mature physique and is a great backup at the point. He is coming along well. Tatum is quite smooth. You can hack on Steven Pearl and McBee all day long, but they are scrappy when they come in. This is a well balanced team that needs a little better outside shooting and more consistent play from Hopson and Williams.

Hopson needs to find a "go to" shot before the tournament. He needs to watch some Big 10 guard play in big games and see how the better guards in the Big 10 are good at driving into the center of the lane and hitting a mid-range jumper...and 1. He needs a money shot when we stall, a drive, pump fake, shot, and plus 1. We need that and this team could go further than last year's.

Ironcity writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hopson either has small hands or weak hands. Its the one issue that holds him back offensively. Good solid game overall. I guess they are going to try to redshirt Mcrae or he is really in the dog house.

ACWLY writes:

Wonder how ole "Downer-GRIFF" will try to bring us down from this win? Maybe his next article will be titled "Will ease of win over MTS make UT over confident for upcoming Pitt game"

dlobh writes:

in response to roobomb:

I love the effort on defense. Melvin Goins is like a blanket out there. Tobias Harris may be the most composed freshman we've ever had. I think he is great for Scotty, because Scotty feels like he has to keep up with him. I think we'll do OK if they combine for 40 each game.

Definitely agree about the effort. Harris is an extremely mature freshman and shows great effort all the time. This team, at least at this point, has to be considered to be performing above expections, to put it mildly, after losing 3 major contributors last year, 4 if you include T Smith. However, the most composed freshman ever at UT averaged 26 ppg, 12 rpg, as a freshman and his number is hanging in the rafters.

mytrifecta writes:

They did exactly what they should have against MTSU. It would have been easy to have a let down tonight and I was glad to see Pearl had them ready. Can't wait until December 11th.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

MTSU was no match in anyway for the Vols. It is probably what we needed, but I can understand why Pearl was chewing on them when up by 25. I hate to see the Vols play sloppy (5 different games of 1 on 1). Hopson has got to stop jumping up in the air like a freakin' gazelle and then trying to figure out what he is doing.

Other than Hoppy Hopperson, who I will continue to criticize until he starts playing with the poise and efficiency that Frosh Harris demonstrates, these guys are really looking quite formiddable. Goins is very strong and can play defense in a Gary Payton-Glove-like manner. He can stay within an inch of a guy all over the floor. Harris is the total package. I can only hope we get 2 seasons out of him. Fields is a steal. CBP deserves major credit for finding him. Too bad it is only 1 yr. Golden has a mature physique and is a great backup at the point. He is coming along well. Tatum is quite smooth. You can hack on Steven Pearl and McBee all day long, but they are scrappy when they come in. This is a well balanced team that needs a little better outside shooting and more consistent play from Hopson and Williams.

Hopson needs to find a "go to" shot before the tournament. He needs to watch some Big 10 guard play in big games and see how the better guards in the Big 10 are good at driving into the center of the lane and hitting a mid-range jumper...and 1. He needs a money shot when we stall, a drive, pump fake, shot, and plus 1. We need that and this team could go further than last year's.

If Hopson keeps shooting 3's like tonight then everything you said (about him) is garbage...I'll take a "bottoms" 3 anyday over a driving turnover!

BigBadVol writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Griff, take a look again at your third sentence and tell me you wouldn't like to rewrite that bad boy.

LMAO! I thought the same thing!

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah kids
Dont show emotion .....

Heat of the moment
We have all been there

wycoller writes:

Nice to see the Vols not overlooking MTSU. If this team stays focused, they will be hard to beat.

Laydbakvol writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Griff, take a look again at your third sentence and tell me you wouldn't like to rewrite that bad boy.

It's called a run on sentence and it means that he doesn't put any periods in it because he thinks somehow it's all related so instead of using punctuation he just keeps on writing until he runs out of steam and then he writes some more.

vols1990 writes:

does anyone know why jordan mcrae didnt play at all?

FatherVol writes:

in response to vols1990:

does anyone know why jordan mcrae didnt play at all?

It was a "coach's decision." Pearl said he didn't do anything wrong.

Vol86 writes:

someone please notify Charlottesville sports writers. Ried is his name I think. Rank us now dippy.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

Liked the way they passed the ball around tonight. Congrats Vols! Get ready to open up a can of whoop azz on Pitt!

Jordan is a Daddy. Posted picture of his son today. Congrats to Jordan also. Make your son proud!

tnqball writes:

in response to roobomb:

I love the effort on defense. Melvin Goins is like a blanket out there. Tobias Harris may be the most composed freshman we've ever had. I think he is great for Scotty, because Scotty feels like he has to keep up with him. I think we'll do OK if they combine for 40 each game.

Tobias is one of the most composed Freshman we have ever had, but that title goes to Allan Houston.

MidTennVol writes:

in response to roobomb:

I love the effort on defense. Melvin Goins is like a blanket out there. Tobias Harris may be the most composed freshman we've ever had. I think he is great for Scotty, because Scotty feels like he has to keep up with him. I think we'll do OK if they combine for 40 each game.

You know, I think you've identified the key issue with Hopson. I've been wondering what's happened to him these last three games. Answer: Tobias Harris. Scotty now has some competition being "the man" out there. I think it is a challenge to his ego, getting outplayed, outhustled, outsmarted, outstarred by a freshman. As you say, Soccty feels like he has to keep up with him.

Kids' and their psychologies. Go figure.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I get you uhh "nobrains"? No class. No ethics. Makes you wonder how he ever got a job? Actually having been a teacher the last 30 years I don't think the players see their language as any thing unusual. They are very aware that the "older generations don't aprove but it's so common it's a part of everyday language and actually the f-word just means the same as s-word etc. It's just an exclamation to let out steam rather than to be nasty or uncouth. Do I like it? NO. It has very little to do with ethics or class for Pearl? Of 'course since you claim to have no brains I guess you couldn't possibly understand any of this.lol

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Golly. I'm guessing you really don't know about off campus recruiting!? I mean I guess Vandy gets all theirs' on-campus. Right? I know. I know! You beat UT last year with your highly touted young men. You are a Vandy fan right? I mean you're obviously not UT. Because if you were you'd be aware that Pearl isn't allowed off campus for a while. I guess it's a good thing we're happy with the players we have.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

I still cringe at all shooters except Tobias and sometimes Cameron. However that Team Defense is the best Pearl has produced since at UT. Eleven days off is a long time and rust sets in but if we were a well shooting team I would be more concerned. We are a defensive minded team which can benefit from long stretches not playing. Hopson I am always amazed by the number of points you have at the end of every game, maybe I concentrate too much on your misses because I want you to make every shot. Keep shooting.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say Bruce wants to know how the Taco shell folding is coming.
Bones never lie.

Oenoboy writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yawn...another day, another troll. Nothing to see here.

8ball writes:

Where is McRae>If summit plays before him either red shirt or dog house (bad doghouse)

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey, your manager at taco bell called...said you forgot to clock out last night.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know; read the article, braindead.

BigOrangeJeff writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think you'll find your answer here: http://tinyurl.com/HereIsYourAnswer

richvol writes:

Hopson did shoot well last night but if anybody thinks this kid is ready for the NBA they are wrong. He was stripped of the ball at least four times last night and once he was standing at the top of the key,apparently zoned out,and an MTSU guard just walked up to him and took the ball away. His defense has improved and I believe,like others,that his improvement has a lot to do with Tobias showing him the way to play or get left behind.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

If Hopson keeps shooting 3's like tonight then everything you said (about him) is garbage...I'll take a "bottoms" 3 anyday over a driving turnover!

I agree with the mocs, Hopson is playin with passion, far more than we have seen the first 2 years. If hes hittin like that, Tob will dominate the middle. Tob will be here more than 1 year, he knows he has to get better and will.

Chewing on them, up by 25 is called mature coaching and finding what deep down inside a player or kid to make em better.

In Bruce we trust!

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

go to the mall, grocery store, gas station, turn on tv, you hear a cuss word, its a part of life Plastic. I never said it was ok, but if you have ever played major college ball or any ball for that matter, you would know emotions are hard to keep in check, I am sure Bruce handled it.

Take your blinders off

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

You know, I think you've identified the key issue with Hopson. I've been wondering what's happened to him these last three games. Answer: Tobias Harris. Scotty now has some competition being "the man" out there. I think it is a challenge to his ego, getting outplayed, outhustled, outsmarted, outstarred by a freshman. As you say, Soccty feels like he has to keep up with him.

Kids' and their psychologies. Go figure.

Agree that there is something psychological there, but I think it is more than that. Harris is a genuine 3 point threat, and so is Cam. Last year, when we had Chism at the five and someone else at the four, and JP at the three, neither of those positions was an outside threat. Consequently, they packed the middle and Hopson had no driving lanes. This year Hopson's drives are a threat because they can clear out for him, and that makes his jumper all the more dangerous, too. Tobias game is complementary for Hopson, and for the rest of them.

Catchone writes:

Eleven days to "WORK" on the studies! Forget BB and hit the books or there won't be any BB in your future.

Hacksaw57 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I heard him say it and then I asked myself, "Did he say what I thought he said?"
I agree- totally uncalled for. What is said in the locker room is one thing but to say it in public in front of a thousand fans in the manner that Williams did is another thing and totally inappropriate. He should be reprimanded. I thought we were better than that.
Boy, if Slive would have heard that then Coach Pearl may have gotten another 4 games added on to his suspension by the SEC!

Hacksaw57 writes:

in response to Orangeblood13:

go to the mall, grocery store, gas station, turn on tv, you hear a cuss word, its a part of life Plastic. I never said it was ok, but if you have ever played major college ball or any ball for that matter, you would know emotions are hard to keep in check, I am sure Bruce handled it.

Take your blinders off

Why don't you find out for us if Coach Pearl handled it and let us know. Thanks.

SunshineVol writes:

Boy, these guys are playing well for this early in the season. I see 11 days between games as a negative but I’m hoping to be wrong. Pitt has three tune-up games before the 11th.

SunshineVol writes:

"UT used 13 players, but freshman Jordan McRae didn't play. Pearl said it was a "Coach's decision,'' and that McRae "didn't do anything wrong.''

That's a big doghouse if he didn't get minutes in this game!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Hot shooting night against a BAD defense..Nice to see Tobias finding his stroke on the 3's;adds a nice new weapon..McRae should get more playing time,Hubert has earned some time on the floor..Woolridge still can't buy a basket

NashvillePreds writes:

Mark Howard's question to Brett Hubbs on the SportsZone (104.5/Nashville) this morning: "Do you think it's bad for Tennessee to be playing this well, b/c it will exacerbate things when Pearl has to serve his suspension?"

I think I could hear Hubbs rolling his eyes.

To Mark Howard - YANKEE GO HOME

murrayvol writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Griff, take a look again at your third sentence and tell me you wouldn't like to rewrite that bad boy.

I've seen a lot of "announced crowd/announced attendance" lately. Must be going around.

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to TopTenn:

Good win, prepare for Pitt. Wow, that would be a big upset.

It would be a BIG upset if Pitt beat us! Haha! Go Vols!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ACWLY:

Wonder how ole "Downer-GRIFF" will try to bring us down from this win? Maybe his next article will be titled "Will ease of win over MTS make UT over confident for upcoming Pitt game"

Actually, that sounds like a valid question to me. Winning so handily against an in-state rival whose season would be made by a victory over the Vols might make some of the Vols think that they just about have this game down solid. However, if they keep trying those too-frequent "no chance" passes, they could get a bunch of those run down the court on them for opponents' dunks! They may get away with those against MTSU, but the Pitt game will likely come down to every single possession; no room for "high-school Harry's" then!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to dlobh:

Definitely agree about the effort. Harris is an extremely mature freshman and shows great effort all the time. This team, at least at this point, has to be considered to be performing above expections, to put it mildly, after losing 3 major contributors last year, 4 if you include T Smith. However, the most composed freshman ever at UT averaged 26 ppg, 12 rpg, as a freshman and his number is hanging in the rafters.

Bernard King was a true phenom and the best Vol ever, IMHO. However, I think even he would tell you that Harris a fuller, better-rounded game. Harris does many things Bernard never tried to do, such as handle the ball in the open court, shoot outside, and hand out assists. He also has a full array of drives and post-up moves and is a decent rebounder and defender. That versatility is probably what roobomb was referencing when he called Harris "the most composed freshman we have ever had."

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features