Vols pluck Eagles, 106-73

There were a bunch of positive developments in Tennessee's 106-73 exhibition blowout of outmanned Carson-Newman Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

- Stanley Asumnu hit 9 of 15 from the floor and finished with 19 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and ZERO turnovers in 20 minutes.

- Andre Patterson, back with the team after a month in coach Bruce Pearl's dog house, hit 7 of 7 floor shots en route to a 17-point, 7-rebound performance … also in just 20 minutes.

- Dane Bradshaw, splitting time between power forward and point guard, produced game highs in rebounds (12) and blocked shots (3), but also dished out 6 assists.

- Point guard C.J. Watson, guilty of seven turnovers in Exhibition No. 1, was turnover-free in Exhibition No. 2. He also scored 15 points.

- Shooting guard Chris Lofton produced just 13 points (half his output in the previous exhibition) but dished out a game-high 8 assists.

- Reserve guard JaJuan Smith chipped in 10 points, 5 assists and some sticky defensive work.

- Tennessee shot 55 percent from the floor, up from 37.7 in the previous exhibition.

- The Vols produced four times as many assists (32) as turnovers (8).

Still, the biggest positive was the revelation that Pearl's run-and-press system works. The well-conditioned Vols broke the game open by outscoring the weary Eagles 13-0 to start the second half.

"Obviously, we wore Carson-Newman down," Pearl said. "There for a while they ran with us, when they were fresh. But that's the way we play. That's the high pressure, and that's why, hopefully, we'll beat the people on the schedule we should beat."

Playing the tempo Pearl demands requires depth. The Vols don't have much of that but Patterson's return at least gives them five starters and three adequate reserves.

"Getting the eighth man back was significant," Pearl said. "Andre played very well tonight. Having more of a rotation allows you to get more guys in there and keep ‘em fresher, which makes everything work better."

Another aspect of Pearl's system that was evident Friday night was balanced scoring. The Vols rarely looked to star guard Lofton, who took just eight shots.

"We didn't have to," Pearl said. "We didn't have to run a lot of sets because we were successful scoring on the break and continuity. There just wasn't much need to go get Chris shots.

"I think you'll find that it's not going to be the same guy every night. I like the balance. We've got six guys in double-figures, and if Dane makes two free throws instead of one, we've got seven. That's good. When you run a spread offense, you need guys that have to be guarded. The fact everybody contributed will make us tougher to scout."

Although Carson-Newman is a Div. II team, beating the Eagles soundly was good for Tennessee's ego. The Vols had to rally late to beat Div. II Southern Indiana last week.

"This was definitely something we needed because last week Southern Indiana hung with us," Patterson said. "They beat us on the boards, beat us in assists. We wanted to turn that around. Coach has been emphasizing defense and rebounding, so we wanted to make an impact with that."

The Vols succeeded on both counts but only after intermission. Carson-Newman shot 43.3 percent in the first half and lost the backboards by a mere 24-21 margin. The second half was a different story, however, as UT limited the Eagles to 39-percent shooting and outrebounded them 25-12.

"I feel like we're making progress," Asumnu said. "We're headed in the right direction. We've just got to keep getting better."

That's true. The East Tennessee State squad that visits next Friday for the regular-season opener will be a lot stronger than the Carson-Newman team that visited this Friday.

"This was a great note to end the preseason on," Bradshaw said. "This gets everybody's confidence ready for the regular season. Hopefully, that'll carry over.

"Of course, East Tennessee State's a better team but we got a lot of positive things from this."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories