John Adams: Up and down and back again

John Adams
Tennessee guard Trae Golden shoots the ball as Arkansas forward Delvon Johnson defends during the first round of the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., Thursday, March 10, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Trae Golden shoots the ball as Arkansas forward Delvon Johnson defends during the first round of the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., Thursday, March 10, 2011.

ATLANTA – Depth was regarded as Tennessee’s greatest attribute entering the SEC basketball tournament. But drawing Arkansas in the first round qualified as a close second midway through the second half at the Georgia Dome.

By then, UT has managed a 16-point lead, and Arkansas looked every bit as bad as the dregs of the conference (See Auburn, LSU and South Carolina for details).

What happened next couldn’t have surprised anyone who has been following UT through an up-and-down season. The Vols crammed their ups and downs into the same game in a 74-68 victory over the Razorbacks on Thursday night.

Fortunately for the Vols, the Hogs reverted to their first-half form after tying the game 68-all. Their last four possessions produced two turnovers, an air-ball, and a line-drive shot that caromed off the backboard with such force it could have rendered someone unconscious if they had been in the line of fire.

But tournament play is about advancing, not aesthetics. So the how’s and why’s of the victory were probably forgotten by the time the Vols left the arena.

They now have another shot at Florida, whom they played agonizingly close in two regular-season losses. Never mind the Gators regular-season supremacy in the SEC. The Vols shouldn’t suffer from a lack of confidence after losing in overtime in Knoxville and by one point in Gainesville.

Playing in the first round could be another advantage for the Vols. They at least have gotten past the first-game jitters, which mounted considerably during Arkansas second-half run.

UT’s depth should factor in as well.

Coach Bruce Pearl had used 11 players before the 10-minute mark of the first half against Arkansas. And the way the Razorbacks were stumbling around, it’s not as though the Vols had to work up a sweat – until the final minutes.

In fact, it might have been almost too easy for the Vols initially.

--Tobias Harris had 16 points in his first 15 minutes.

--Center Brian Williams nonchalantly tossed in about a 27-footer with such certainty you would have thought it was part of his offensive repertoire.

-- Steven Pearl, who usually focuses on disrupting opponents’ offenses, scored three times on drives to the basket in the second half.

--Backup guard Josh Bone caused problems for Arkansas near the basket as well as on the perimeter

Given the Razorbacks’ 66.7 percent shooting in the second half, the Vols needed every bit of that. They will need that and more against the Gators, the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

While you can’t argue that Florida has a more formidable starting lineup, it doesn’t have UT’s depth. The Vols got 31 points from their bench against Arkansas.

High-scorer Tobias Harris on Vols' win over Arkansas

Bone’s performance might have been the most noteworthy, especially since starter Cameron Tatum is playing so poorly. Tatum made only one of eight field-goal attempts and had three turnovers against the Razorbacks. In the last six games, he is 8-for-38 from the field.

Bone, who played three more minutes than Tatum in the first-round game, made three of six shots and scored eight points. He also had two rebounds, two steals and didn’t commit a turnover in 23 minutes.

Using a lot of players will matter against Florida. Using the right players will matter even more.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 13

huntined#565710 writes:

Can't use that NO SCORERS CREW he puts in as the other team can come back when we have nobody on the floor that is a threat to score..

TennVol01 writes:

Cheerful pep talk article. Thanks??

FeelVol writes:

I've thought all year that Bone was the better all around player and that I'd want him in at the end of the game.

tenndave writes:

I have known all year that Brian Williams was our best three point shooter. His percentage doesn't lie. Get him out front and let him shoot. We need someone who can consistently hit threes.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to tenndave:

I have known all year that Brian Williams was our best three point shooter. His percentage doesn't lie. Get him out front and let him shoot. We need someone who can consistently hit threes.

Maybe that's been his problem all year on layups. Standing too close to the basket. 27 feet too close.

GreeneVol writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

Can't use that NO SCORERS CREW he puts in as the other team can come back when we have nobody on the floor that is a threat to score..

Pearl scored twice during that time (mid-2nd half); we held our 14-pt lead. Not only did we hold the lead but the starters got to rest for a couple of minutes.

Now most of the time, we are going to lose some ground to the opponent with this line-up - Coach Pearl is aware of this too, I'm sure. Depth is key in most games and this no-day-off tourney format, especially with no bye.

Smokey_Chow writes:

This year's team is so frustrating to watch. They will go up in the first half only to come down in the second.

Scotty is by far our best player but he was virtually not even there last night. He follows the same pattern as the team in general... on and off. Hopefully tonight he can put some good numbers up and help UT win against florida.

And dont forget that Hopson's big dunk against South Carolina was voted in as a selection for Dunk of the Year. Go vote for Scotty to help him win.... http://www.smokeychow.com/2011/03/sco...

arkyvol writes:

why do i cringe every time one of the vols jacks up a shot from behind the line?

utk1996 writes:

I'll say it again: why do they EVER shoot three pointers? When they drive it to the basket it usually ends up in a basket, foul, or a putbacke from Williams or Harris. They should never, ever shoot a three. They can beat Florida. Drive to the lane repeatedly, knock down free throws, and play defense. We match up well with Florida. I'm optimistic.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Depth? What depth? I used to think we had good depth, too, but many of these bench players have been a disappointment. John Fields has scissors-hands. Ken Hall and Woolridge have been no-shows all season. Skylar McBee can't shoot worth a lick. Golden isn't a point guard but, unfortunately, is a freshman. Our depth isn't any better than anyone else's, we just like to pretend that it is.

Smokey_Chow writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LOL you are a goofy little man.

You're on the wrong site today. You should be on the Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama sites considering those are your possible opponents. The Kittens and UT dont even have a chance to square off until the actual championship game if they were to both make it there.

Keep posting though, I really enjoy your ignorance!

theoldbear writes:

in response to Smokey_Chow:

This year's team is so frustrating to watch. They will go up in the first half only to come down in the second.

Scotty is by far our best player but he was virtually not even there last night. He follows the same pattern as the team in general... on and off. Hopefully tonight he can put some good numbers up and help UT win against florida.

And dont forget that Hopson's big dunk against South Carolina was voted in as a selection for Dunk of the Year. Go vote for Scotty to help him win.... http://www.smokeychow.com/2011/03/sco...

I agree that this team is frustrating to watch.

Scotty Hopson could be our best player. But he has poor ball handling and passing skills. His shooting varies from poor to mediocre most nights. His defense is suspect, his rebounding is weak, and his hustle is almost non-existant.

And he's still our best player most nights.

Sad.

tomkats3242 writes:

For once Adams is right when he says they need to fire Bruce and get rid of HOPSON the most overrated jr. high player I have ever seen. Hope he does not cry on the trip back to TN. Maybe Mike H will stroke him when he get there.
FIRE HAMILTON, BRUCE AND GET RID OF HOPSON

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