Howell's helping

Sophomore guard Jordan Howell was so far down Tennessee's depth chart earlier this year that even walk-on Eddie DeBro came off the bench before he did.

The past few games, however, Howell has been getting more and more quality minutes … and responding with more and more quality play.

The 6-foot-2 Auburn, Ala., product played just 20 minutes in the first four games, an average of 5.0 per game. He made two of five shots while producing five points and one assist.

Howell has played 26 minutes in the past three games, however, an average of 8.7 per game. He has made five of six floor shots during that stretch, producing 14 points and two assists.

For the season, Howell is hitting 63.6 percent from the floor (7 of 11) and 62.5 percent from beyond the arc (5 of 8). He also has done an adequate job running the offense as a fill-in at the point.

Howell's best outing was his most recent one. Although Tennessee lost 89-73 to Oklahoma State in Game 7, Howell sank all three field goal tries, two of them 3-pointers, for a career-high 8 points.

"Jordan Howell did some really good things, especially offensively," head coach Bruce Pearl conceded. "I've got confidence in Jordan."

Because he gets so few minutes each game, Howell still makes the occasional mental mistake. Such was the case against Oklahoma State.

"There were a couple of times I had to (chastise) him pretty good but I thought he played pretty well," Pearl said. "He was three for three from the field, two for two from the line and only had one turnover. That was really good."

Howell's continued development is crucial for Tennessee. With Dane Bradshaw playing primarily inside this year, Howell provides insurance at both guard positions behind starters C.J. Watson and Chris Lofton, plus super-sub JaJuan Smith.

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