Howell about that?

Senior point guard C.J. Watson entered Tuesday night's game against Appalachian State averaging 31.3 minutes, 15.5 points and 5.8 assists per game. Sophomore backup Jordan Howell came in averaging 5.0 minutes, 1.3 points and 0.25 assists per game.

So, when Howell replaced Watson late in the first half, the Vols' offensive efficiency figured to suffer. It didn't. If anything, Howell provided a spark.

Moments after entering the lineup he drained a 3-pointer to tie the score a 43-all. Seconds later he dived on the floor to claim a loose ball, then shoveled to Stanley Asumnu, who made a driving three-point play to provide a 46-43 lead. Howell even grabbed a rebound, finishing his three-minute stint 1 of 1 from the floor, with a rebound, three points and zero turnovers.

Howell also gave Watson a two-minute breather in the second half, running the offense flawlessly. A rested Watson then made some clutch baskets and free throws down the stretch as Tennessee won 89-81.

Howell was so far down the depth chart earlier this year that even walk-on Eddie DeBro came off the bench before him. Howell has made game-by-game progress, however, and now ranks as the Vols' fourth guard behind Watson, Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.

"I think Jordan Howell did a terrific job coming off the bench," Vol head coach Bruce Pearl said afterward. "He was in there for some crucial moments. One of the things we've talked about is keeping C.J. Watson fresh to win ball games for us.

"The fact Jordan Howell is coming on is a real nice sign. Jordan's playing with confidence, both offensively and defensively. I think the swing (point in the game) was when Jordan Howell came in and played well.

"I thought that was a swing for all of us."


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