Jeronne, Tobias in tandem

Based on his 6-point, 8-rebound showing in 16 impressive relief minutes Friday night at Charlotte, 6-7, 258-pound sophomore Jeronne Maymon just might be Tennessee's second-best basketball player.

The problem is, he plays the same position (power forward) as Tennessee's best basketball player - 6-8, 226-pound freshman Tobias Harris. That means the only way Vol head man Bruce Pearl can increase Maymon's minutes is by decreasing Harris' minutes ... unless one of the young studs moves to another position so they can be on the floor simultaneously.

Inquiring minds want to know: When might that happen?

"Not yet," Pearl said earlier today. "Right now, for both of them, their best position is the 4 spot. Our plan was to move Steven Pearl off the 4, which we did for the Charlotte game. Jeronne wound up getting 16 minutes in there (at the 4) and I thought he played effectively."

Although Tennessee's head coach isn't ready to relocate Harris or Maymon just yet, he admits that the idea of playing them in tandem is intriguing.

"Coming back from the break, when I have more time," Pearl said, "the possibility exists that we'll get one of those guys off that position to give both more minutes."

In the meantime, Maymon will have to settle for bolstering a bench that has been a huge disappointment for the Vols lately.

In Tennessee's Dec. 14 loss to Oakland, Trae Golden (1-3, 5 points), Skylar McBee (0-1, 0 points), Kenny Hall (1-1, 3 points), Steven Pearl (0-1, 0 points) and John Fields (1-3, 2 points) combined to score just 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Even with Maymon contributing, the bench was equally lame in Friday's loss at Charlotte. Golden (0-1, 1 point), McBee (1-4, 3 points), Pearl (0-0, 1 point), Fields (0-1, 0 points) and Maymon (3-6, 6 points) combined for just 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

Bruce Pearl conceded that the recent production of his reserves has been "an issue," adding: "We've got several guys coming off the bench that are better defensively than offensively. John Fields is better defensively than offensively. Steven Pearl is better defensively than offensively. Maymon is good both ways but Skylar has not shot the ball with a lot of confidence yet. He gives you some real hustle defensively but he's not provided that shooting spark."

Golden averaged 29.8 points per game as a high school senior but clearly is struggling with the adjustment from shooting guard to point guard.

"Trae Golden can score the ball," Pearl said. "But, in trying to play that new position of point guard, he's just going too fast with the ball. He can shoot it and, when I get him to slow down just a little bit offensively, I think he'll show that."

In addition, two of Tennessee's key reserves have been injured. Junior forward Renaldo Woolridge missed the past three games with a sprained ankle. Senior guard Josh Bone hasn't played all season due to a fractured wrist. He's expected to be cleared in mid- to late-January.

"The bench has not been as productive offensively, and we will look to make some adjustments," Pearl said. "Renaldo Woolridge getting hurt took him out of the rotation.... We'll take a look at Renaldo now that we've got him back to being healthy."

Two more Vols are caught in the numbers crunch - sophomore center Kenny Hall and freshman wing Jordan McRae.

"Kenny Hall is probably one of the best centers in the country that's not playing a lot right now," Pearl said. "I give Kenny a lot of credit for hanging in there.

"Jordan McRae is going to be a terrific player, a great scorer. He just isn't quite physically ready but he's getting there."

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