Pearl pleased with Vols' effort and energy
But Hopson no longer questions himself, and he believes that has been the biggest difference in his current eight-game streak of scoring 15 points or more.
Hopson hopes to extend that streak when Tennessee (12-6) plays at No. 10 Connecticut (15-2) on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 2 p.m.) in Hartford, Conn.
"It's like I don't ask permission any more, I ask for forgiveness, if you know what I mean,'' Hopson said. "I just go out and play and do my best, and if I mess up, I'll apologize and take accountability.
"When I was deferring and second-guessing myself, I wasn't making the right decisions.''
Hopson admits that deferring to talented upperclassmen over the past two seasons at UT affected his confidence.
"In high school, I was a leader, but I got away from that the past two seasons,'' said Hopson, who earned McDonald's All-American honors at University Heights High School in Hopkinsville, Ky. "I didn't have to carry the load at Tennessee because we had other great players.
"But now Coach ( Bruce Pearl) says we go as I go, so I just try to stay in that attack mentality.''
Hopson's ability to carry that mentality to the defensive end has been key in the past two games, as he has gone head-to-head with Vanderbilt star Jeffery Taylor and Georgia's Travis Leslie and outplayed both.
"There have been days I've been sore, or tired, and didn't really want to go hard in practice, but that happens to everyone,'' Hopson said. "I've just learned I have to compete and get my mind right every day to lead.''
Tough Tobias: Freshman Tobias Harris has made a good case for himself to win SEC freshman of the year, and his performance in the Vols' 59-57 win at Georgia on Tuesday did nothing to hurt that.
Harris had 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a career-high five blocked shots against the Bulldogs.
It's Over: UT guard Josh Bone had no idea at the time that the shot he hit with 2:20 left to put the Vols up 55-54 came after the shot clock had expired.
"I knew the shot clock was going down, but I didn't know it was at zero,'' Bone said. "I saw the replay later, and I was like 'Ohhh!"
"But it's over now.''
Big Baby's Big Day: Brian "Big Baby" Williams enjoyed an exciting 24 hours after his game-winning, buzzer-beating shot against Georgia made ESPN's SportsCenter.
"My phone has been going crazy, so has Twitter and Facebook,'' Williams said. "Shoot, I can't even accept any more Facebook friends.''
Williams began Thursday's practice by chanting "Kobe-Bryant,'' followed by, "Big Baby."
Bench Mob: UT's bench outscored Georgia's 20-10, marking the seventh consecutive game the Vols' so-called "Bench Mob" has done so dating back to a win over UT Martin.
The Vols' bench was out-scored in seven of the first 11 games this season.
Forbes' Big Week: UT assistant coach Steve Forbes saw the fruits of his work in two areas: recruiting and coaching.
Signee Chris Jones of Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy was named the MVP of the prestigious high school Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo., last weekend.
Forbes served as the primary recruiter for Jones, a lightning-quick guard who scored 29 points in the tournament's championship game.
Forbes also had the scout for the win over Georgia, a game that saw UT's scheme lead to a 24-22 advantage in points in the paint and 34-28 advantage on the boards.
Bulldogs' preseason player of the year Trey Thompkins was held to 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting - his worst shooting performance of the season.
3-2 Zone: One of the plans in place before the Georgia game was for the Vols to pull a seldom-used defense out of their arsenal, the 3-2 zone.
"We had shown it once, all season, against Vanderbilt,'' said UT associate head coach Tony Jones, who handled the bench duties with Pearl serving the fourth game of his eight-game SEC suspension. "We used it five times (against Georgia), and they scored once against it.''
Zero-for-Georgia: All four UT players from the state of Georgia played Tuesday night, but none of them scored.
The players - Cameron Tatum, Kenny Hall, Trae Golden and Jordan McRae - played a combined 33 minutes and were a cumulative 0-for-8 shooting.
Tatum, who starts at the wing, got the lion's share of those minutes with 21.