Frosh are key for UT

Twenty-five games into their UT basketball careers, Major Wingate and Dane Bradshaw can no longer use ''freshmanitis'' as an excuse. They've gained enough experience at this point that their status as first-year players no longer is an alibi for mental lapses and passivity.

Both players started last Saturday's defeat of Auburn and both contributed significantly. Wingate scored a career-high 9 points, with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 1 steal in 27 minutes. Bradshaw, making his first career start, contributed 4 points, 3 rebounds and a game-high 5 assists in 22 minutes.

The two also collaborated on what head coach Buzz Peterson called ''the biggest play of the game.'' Bradshaw went to the floor to corral a loose ball, igniting a fast break that ended with a dunk by Wingate. The score was part of a finishing kick which enabled UT to come from behind in the closing minutes and win 75-69.

Although Wingate and Bradshaw helped defeat Auburn, both will be called upon for greater contributions Wednesday night at Vanderbilt, when the Vols try to post their first season road win of the season.

Wingate, a 6-10, 260-pounder, needs to be more aggressive, particularly on offense. He has a tendency to look for the pass first and look for the basket second.

''He needs to be greedy,'' Peterson said, ''and that's just not his nature.''

Wingate asserted himself more than usuaal in the Auburn game, however, particularly after teammte Brandon Crump was ejected for his involvement in a fight.

''Major knew he had to produce; he had to do something,'' Peterson said. ''A lot of times, Major's intensity level goes up, then all of a sudden it goes down and back up. It kind of stayed up the whole time (after Crump's ejection) because he knew we had to have it.

''He had a couple of defensive stands that were pretty impressive. There were some where he was inconcistent and let 'em (Tiger post players) catch it too easy but I thought his effort was consistent.''

Bradshaw's effort is always consistent ... consistently high. He isn't as physically gifted as some other backcourt players but he competes with the mentality of a linebacker. That isn't surprising, since the 6-3, 220-pounder is built like one. Appearances aside, though, he is probably the Vols' second-best ballhandler behind starting point guard C.J. Watson.

''I felt like Dane deserved the start because of his ballhandling,'' Peterson said. ''He's done some good things, and I felt like we needed some extra ballhandling going into that game.''

Both Bradshaw and Wingate were on the floor during UT's late rally that turned a six-point deficit into a six-point victory.

''What really impressed me going down the stretch was for two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior to finish the game for you,'' Peterson said. ''That's some valuable experience for those guys. Down by six, they didn't panic. They had it going good on defense and got some hustle plays.

''That's what I've been looking for.''

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