Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson, right, attempts a 3-pointer over Florida's Alex Tyus during the Gators' 81-75 overtime win in Knoxville on Jan. 11.
It stretches the defense, thus making it more vulnerable.
Tennessee's struggle to connect on 3-point shot attempts this season has enabled opponents to pack the paint, just as a football defense will load the box against offenses lacking a quarterback capable of making long throws.
The Vols have connected on 166 of 531 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc this season, marking the fewest made and lowest 3-point field-goal percentage (31.3) in UT coach Bruce Pearl's six seasons.
"If we're shooting well, it spreads the floor,'' junior Cameron Tatum said. "You spread the floor, it creates opportunities to drive, and that's our game.
"It's definitely a key for us; early in the year we were hitting our threes and winning games.''
The evidence supports as much: UT is shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range in its 18 wins but just 28.4 percent in its 13 losses.
Pearl said 3-pointers were an area of emphasis in Tuesday's practice, as the Vols (18-13) continued preparations to play Arkansas (18-12) on Thursday (TV: MyVLT, 7:30 p.m.) in the first round of the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
"The 3-point shot is important to any offense, but it's definitely very important to mine,'' Pearl said. "I think we will shoot it better. We've got some guys that can shoot it, I just don't think we're doing a good enough job getting it to them.''
Junior Scotty Hopson leads the Vols in 3-point shooting this season, hitting at 38.3 percent and making 40.9 percent in SEC play.
Hopson was 3-for-3 shooting beyond the 3-point arc as Tennessee led by as many as 21 points in a convincing 83-76 win over then-No. 3 Pittsburgh. The team, collectively, was 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range against the Big East regular-season champion Panthers.
In a 104-84 win over Memphis, UT was 12-of-21 shooting 3-pointers, leading the Tigers by as many as 36 points.
"I look at where our shots are coming from, off dribble handoffs, drive-draw-dish or inside-out,'' Hopson said. "Usually, when you get the ball outside in any of those situations, your feet are already squared up.
"Hitting 3-pointers obviously makes a great deal of difference to me because of my ability to get to the rim.''
Indeed, when Hopson is hitting from outside, defenses are forced to press up on him, and one of Hopson's greatest attributes is a lightning-quick first step.
Hopson said as much as the Vols have increased their shot volume in practice. He also said they also must work harder to find better 3-point shots to attempt.
"It's about guys making it, and guys sharing it, and that includes me,'' Hopson said. "We all have to do a better job of distributing the ball and finding the open man.
"We're all conscientious that teams are crashing down in the paint on us, so when that happens other guys have to relocate and want the ball.''
Tatum said there's more to it than merely being open on the perimeter.
"It's if the pass is right, and if the catch is right, and obviously, how the defense is playing you,'' Tatum said. "The way teams have been packing it in on us, we can kick it back out to open teammates.''
Special Delivery: Pearl said he's checking into modifying a seat on the team bus so that center Brian Williams can have a comfortable 3 1/2-hour ride down to Atlanta today.
"I'm going to inquire about that,'' Pearl said.
Williams took part in Tuesday's practice, but he experienced soreness and wasn't playing as well as before the injury, Pearl said.
"He went, and the results were mixed, as you would expect,'' Pearl said. "We'll see how he responds (today). You can tell he's been out.''
Williams practiced on Monday after missing the previous eight days with an injured back suffered in the Vols' Feb. 26 loss to Mississippi State.
No Melvin: Pearl said senior guard Melvin Goins missed practice on account of the flu.
"I hope to have him back (today), but he's got a pretty big bug,'' Pearl said. "It's coming out of him . . . he's a pretty tough kid, though.''
NCAA Movement: ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi has dropped UT from a No. 9 seed to a No. 10 seed in his latest projections, predicting the Vols will play Cincinnati in Denver in the West Region in Anaheim, Calif.
Other websites held firm in their projected NCAA seeding for UT: CBSSports.com (9); Foxsports.com (9); SI.com (6), Warrennolan.com (9).
3-POINT PCT. BY SEASON
Season 3FG-FGA Pct.
2010-11 166-531 31.3
2009-10 218-681 32.0
2008-09 229-728 31.5
2007-08 312-875 35.7
2006-07 327-896 36.5
2005-06 264-683 38.7
3-POINT IN SEC PLAY
Player 3FG-FGA Pct.
Hopson 27-66 40.9
Harris 12-37 32.4
McBee 11-36 30.6
Tatum 16-61 26.2
Goins 11-43 25.6
Bone 6-25 24.0
Golden 2-14 14.3
UT'S LAST FIVE GAMES
Opponent 3FG-FGA Pct.
vs. Georgia 4-17 23.5
vs. Vanderbilt 2-15 13.3
vs. Miss. State 5-21 23.8
vs. South Carolina 4-11 36.4
vs. Kentucky 2-9 22.2