Usually when you hear Renaldo Woolridge's name in the same sentence as the word "mix," a reference to his Swiperboy record label and Tennessee-inspired rap music follows.
But that hasn't been the case the past three games, as the senior forward is settling into the mix of players in UT's soon-to-shrink playing rotation on the basketball court.
Woolridge scored in double figures for the second time during his past three games in the 86-55 victory over The Citadel (2-10) on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"It's just been about keeping my focus, working hard in practice, getting in the gym on my own and doing whatever I can to help the team,'' said Woolridge, who has averaged more than 20 minutes per game the past three contests coming off the bench at power forward and at the post.
"I'm making sure I'm in there to be a spark plug,'' said Woolridge, who had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting against the Bulldogs. "A lot of guys are doing the same, and that's why we've reeled off three straight (wins).''
Interestingly enough, Woolridge's resurgence began with an 0-for-5 performance in the nine minutes he played in the 71-65 loss at the College of Charleston on Dec. 14 after he hadn't played in the previous two games.
UT coach Cuonzo Martin praised Woolridge for the energy he brought to the floor and the aggressive manner he defended, staying true to his pledge that his evaluation would be based on effort, and not scoring totals.
Woolridge responded with a career-high 17-point performance in the next game, a 72-68 win over UNC Asheville.
"I think everything is starting to click,'' said the 6-foot-9, 215-pound Woolridge. "I've figured out where I can get my offense
and my role on defense. I'm feeling confidence from my teammates and coaches.''
Martin validated that what Woolridge is feeling is real.
"Renaldo has really stepped up,'' Martin said following Thursday's win. "What Renaldo brings is a lot of energy, up and down the floor. Even if he misses an assignment on either end, he's so active in what he does. He also disrupts the defense because he can make shots from the perimeter.''
Woolridge said it's a case of him adjusting to Martin's coaching style and meeting his coach's expectations.
"Coach Martin told me as soon as he came here that with my athleticism, all I have to do is play as hard as I can,'' Woolridge said. "If I'm not getting a rebound, tip it to my teammate and just stay active at all times.
"It's a matter of finding my niche.''
Hot Shots: Led by Yemi Makanjuola's 7-for-9 shooting performance, the Vols (6-6) made 55.9 percent of their shots from the floor, their third-highest mark of the season behind a 64.6-percent outing against UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 11, and 57.1 percent against Division II Chaminade on Nov. 23 in the Maui Invitational.
Box Score Additions: Three UT players scored their first points as Vols in the final minutes against The Citadel.
Former Fulton standout Galen Campbell scored on a drive to the basket in transition, Ryan Kilmartin hit a 3-point shot and Rob Murphy sank a free throw in addition to pulling down a rebound.
UT scored a season-high 50 points off its bench.
Golden Nose: Tennessee starting point guard Trae Golden underwent surgery at University of Tennessee Medical Center on Friday to correct a minor nasal fracture, according to a UT release.
Golden, a sophomore, suffered the injury in a Dec. 16 practice when he was struck by teammate's elbow.
The surgery was planned by UT in advance to not conflict with games or practices.
Golden is expected to play against Chattanooga (6-8) on Monday (TV: SportSouth, 7 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32