Tobias Harris has a veteran’s composure

Tobias Harris was the last player out of the Tennessee locker room Saturday, emerging with a slight limp and a grimace.

Harris rolled his left ankle with just under 13 minutes left in the Vols’ 74-57 men’s basketball win over Ole Miss at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss.

Other Tennessee (14-7, 4-2 SEC) players were bounding around with smiles, downright giddy after closing to within a half-game of first place in the SEC East Division.

But for Harris, the win was merely another step — albeit a painful one — in his march for a championship.

Harris is only 18 years old, but he has the look, playing style and disposition of a veteran.

He soldiered through a tough afternoon in Oxford. He pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked two shots despite his 2-of-12 shooting performance.

“Those shots not falling, man, that’s tough,’’ Harris said. “But I didn’t let it affect me. I can still do other things on the floor for my team.

“Rebounding is what the team needed, especially when I couldn’t get it going on offense.’’

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said that type of team-first attitude is what makes Harris special.

“There isn’t a freshman in America who could be contributing more to us than Tobias is,’’ Pearl said. “He’s one of the leading rebounders in the SEC, and that speaks volumes to his toughness.’’

Pearl did not make the trip to Oxford, as he was serving the sixth game of his eight-game SEC suspension. Associate head coach Tony Jones has led the team on the bench for the past six SEC games.

A McDonald’s All-American who was rated the top power forward in the nation coming out of high school in Dix Hills, N.Y., Harris had his pick of national championship contenders.

He chose Tennessee after striking up a good relationship with Jones and Pearl.

Throughout the ongoing NCAA investigation, Harris has remained steady, stating that he came to win a national championship at Tennessee and insisting it can still happen this season.

Harris certainly is doing his part, leading the team with 7.71 rebounds per game while averaging 14.6 points. His six double-doubles are second in the SEC behind Mississippi State senior Kodi Augustus (7).

Pearl said it’s as much about Harris’ basketball IQ as it is about his 6-foot-8, 226-pound fame.

“He knows how to use his body to position himself, and he puts himself in the right place at the right time,’’ Pearl said. “He knows how to seal and post up.

“Tobias has attributes you can’t teach, and that’s knowing where to be and when to be there. He has great timing.’’

Harris returned to play the final minutes against the Rebels, wanting to ensure the win didn’t slip away.

“I just wanted to continue to rebound and make plays for the other guys,’’ Harris said. “Brian (Williams) played great and John Fields was real active, too.

“We won the game and that’s all that matters, and now it’s on to the next game.’’

Harris will continue to get treatment on his ankle, but he is not expected to miss the Vols’ game at Auburn on Thursday (TV: 9 p.m., ESPN2).

RPI Watch: The Vols are No. 16 in the national RPI ranking, according to RealTimeRpi.com, and UT has maintained the No. 1 strength of schedule.

The Vols’ game at Auburn (8-13, 1-6) could threaten UT’s ranking, as the Tigers’ RPI is 283 out of 345 teams.

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Comments » 11

PeeEllthree writes:

Would rather not see him shoot the 3 from the corner for a couple of games. Or if he does, he needs to follow his shot.

fpcoach writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

and you are a moron............

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Great article!! Right this minute we are fine with NO problems and NO bad players!! GBOBA

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would like to see you playing at their pace.You would find they are not lazy.Harris is not a whimp,just dosen't play the same every game.They are not lazy.

People that have never played basketball are the ones that are always complaining.Pearl and McBee are more than you claim.They are not all americans but give quality minutes.

brod writes:

glad to have him here. might have to lean on him some on the days when hopson is not doing well.

DroopyDrawers writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am tired about Skylar and Steven. If the rest of gave their all, except Harris, we would be great.

Steven steals and creates more turnovers in the 10 minutes he plays than the rest of the team.

You sir, are full of shift.

easleychuck writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Very constructive on your part, at your last coaching job how did your teams finish during the regular season, the tourney?

vols1990 writes:

in response to MrPearl_STILLHERE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

its one thing to accuse a coach of cheating (even though i love bruce pearl and believe he should stay her), but to accuse a player of cheating it absurd.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

IGNORE PEARLSTILL!!! I AM! uhhhh? oops.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

IGNORE PEARLSTILL!!! I AM! uhhhh? oops.

Trying hard Mocs to do the same but when Pearl and simmsout dominate what is a positive article about one of the best freshman players UT has seen in years with their BS you gotta call a spade; a spade..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must not have been watching Williams for the last couple of weeks if you call him "lazy"! Goins isn't lazy, either, though he is sometimes out of control. In fact, he would probably be better off if he could dial his quickness back a little bit. His biggest fault, at least until just recently, is that he takes the ball in too deep among the trees where he can't get a shot off and the posts can't catch his wrap-around passes in traffic. Pearl and McBee may have JC-level talent, but they have NBA-level heart and both contribute solidly to the team.

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