Is fatigue hurting Vols?

In the ongoing effort to explain Tennessee's second-half collapse in last Saturday's 83-70 loss at Alabama, Vol head man Buzz Peterson now says fatigue may have been the culprit.

Playing aggressively, the Vols allowed just 32 first-half points en route to a 36-32 intermission lead. Tennessee then lost its edge and surrendered 51 second-half points, enabling Bama to come from behind and win handily.

''For 20 minutes , we were into them and were much more aggressive (than in the second half),'' Peterson said at his Monday news conference. ''I guess we get tired, mentally fatigued, and it's easier to score on us.''

So, what can a coach do to fix this problem?

''Maybe I should substitute more in the first half,'' Peterson said. ''The second half we gave up too many easy baskets.''

That was partly because the Vols took too many bad shots. The resulting long rebounds enabled Bama to get an 8- to 12-foot head start on its fast-break offense, which produced several easy transition buckets in the second half.

''Some of our shots against the zone landed (ricocheted far from the basket) and ... Boom! they're going the other way,'' Peterson noted.

Even when the Vols got back on defense, however, their feet sometimes seemed nailed to the floor. Time after time, Bama's Chuck Davis broke free for layups on the inside and Earnest Shelton got open looks on the outside. Perhaps, as Peterson suggests, this was because Vol starters played so many minutes in the first half that they were winded in the second half.

''C.J. (Watson) has three lungs,'' Peterson said, ''but the other guys may need more rest in the first half.''

The Vol coach added that he plans to give his starters more pine time in Wednesday night's game with Ole Miss. Tipoff is set for 7:30 at Thompson-Boling Arena. Both teams stand 12-9 overall and 4-6 in SEC play. Ole Miss, like UT, is 0-5 in SEC road games.

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