Crump slump over?

Tennessee's basketball team likely will sink or swim this season based on the play of 6-foot-10 Brandon Crump. The senior post player from Klein, Texas, can be a dominating force or he can be an 82-inch flop.

Crump was dominating against Xavier (11 of 14 from the field, 26 points), Alabama State (5 of 7, 17 points), Belmont (8 of 10, 22 points) and Nebraska (9 of 12, 19 points). He was pure flop in Tennessee's first four games, hitting just 14 of 33 floor shots while averaging a paltry 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per outing.

''He got off to a bad start,'' Vol coach Buzz Peterson conceded. ''But he's really turned it around, and he's playing good, solid basketball now.''

Why the slow start?

''Probably pressure, putting too much responsibility on himself, trying to do too much,'' Peterson said. ''I take 20 to 30 minutes each practice just working with him on the basic, simple things. He needs to let the game come to him a little bit but still try to take advantage of everything inside that he can.''

When UT opened in the Maui Invitational, Crump was a virtual no-show. He played poorly in Game 1 vs. Stanford (10 points, 4 rebounds), in Game 2 vs. North Carolina (4 points, 4 rebounds) and in Game 3 vs. Texas (8 points, 7 rebounds). Peterson believes the towering Texan was wilting under self-imposed pressure.

''It was a big tournament with a lot of (NBA) scouts there,'' the coach said. ''I feel like he put way too much on himself. We've talked a lot about relaxing, enjoying the game and enjoying your senior year.''

If Crump DOESN'T enjoy this year, it's a safe bet the Vols won't, either.

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