"He has a way of opening the floor for everybody, besides the hundred plays we've already got," Wingate said. "No matter what, everybody's going to get involved if they pay attention."
Wingate must've been paying attention against Eastern Kentucky because he was remarkably efficient on the offensive end of the floor – sinking 6 of 8 field goal tries and 6 of 6 free throws, in addition to grabbing 4 offensive rebounds. Clearly, EKU's zone defense didn't bother him a whole lot.
"Actually, I think I play better against zone than man," Wingate said, adding that the key against a zone defense is "just finding an open area. Against man-to-man somebody's always on you, no matter what. It was pretty easy against the zone."
Since Chris Lofton and C.J. Watson give UT a superior backcourt, Pearl has been emphasizing the need for inside scoring. Assistant coach Jason Shay has been reinforcing this by pushing Tennessee's post players very hard in practice. As a result, Wingate seems to be a little more aggressive this season.
"This year Coach Shay has put a big emphasis on us trying to finish down low," Wingate said. "The drills he puts us through get us beat up every day, and that helps a lot."
At 6-feet-10 and 250 pounds, the muscular Wingate has the physical tools to be a dominating force. He created serious match-up problems for Game 1 foe East Tennessee State and Game 3 foe Eastern Kentucky, helping the Vols win each game handily.
"I always sense a mismatch inside," he said. "I have enough faith in my team that I know we'll win, whether I get the ball or not. If they want to get me the ball, they can. But if they don't, they know I'm going to look for whoever's hot. I was the one (vs. EKU), and they got the ball to me."
Eastern Kentucky utilized some 2-3 zone and some 1-3-1 zone. Neither seemed to bother UT, which probably ensures the Vols won't see much zone from future foes. That's fine with Wingate. He figures Pearl's versatile attack can succeed against any defensive scheme.
"Every zone has its weak spot, so you just need to know where the weak spot is," he said. "We do a great job finding weak spots in zones, and if they go man-to-man we'll kill ‘em other ways."