Determined to dish

Melvin Goins may not be the world's greatest point guard but, apparently, he's a pretty good listener.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said earlier this week that he wanted more assists from the Vol senior, who he said tends to penetrate and shoot, rather than penetrate and pass.

Heeding the head man's directive, the 5-10, 195-pounder recorded twice as many assists in the first half of Wednesday's game with South Carolina (4) as he produced in the previous three games combined (2).

"I was just trying to get my teammates involved," Melvin Goins said. "They made the shots when I passed 'em the ball. That was a credit to them."

Actually, his first-half assist total wasn't really a credit to his teammates; they made just 37.9 percent from the field during those first 20 minutes. It was mostly a credit to Goins' determination to find shots for his fellow Vols instead of for himself.

"It started with Mel from the jump," said junior wing Scotty Hopson, who scored 23 points and appeared to benefit most from Goins' new-found emphasis on sharing. "He made some great passes, and the rest of us got the ball moving. When we're getting more touches, everybody's playing better."

Goins added two more assists in the second half to finish with 6, matching his season high, as the Vols snapped a three-game losing streak with a crucial 73-67 victory.

"I didn't feel pressure," Goins said, "but it was important for us to get the win."

Thanks in part to improved play at the point, the Vols got the win.

"With Mel passing a little more and starting to make more plays," Hopson said, "we're getting more comfortable in the offense."

Goins, who has taken some criticism in the media lately, tried to downplay his six-assist outing on Wednesday night.

"I don't think I did a terrific job or anything," he said. "I just tried to get my teammates involved a little bit more and, luckily, they came through and we came out with the win."

While Goins' 6 assists were a huge positive, he also registered a season-high 5 turnovers. He is not inclined to dwell on that part of his performance.

"It was what it was," he said. "I need to do better."

Goins did a better-than-usual job feeding the post vs. South Carolina. As a result, center Brian Williams and power forward Tobias Harris got nine shots each and scored 10 points each.

"I wanted to attack their zone, hit their weak spots and deliver the ball wherever I could," Goins said. "Our guys made plays."

That was because Melvin Goins made assists.

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