Hoop dreams

The Tennessee basketball team lacks big bodies. It lacks big talent. It lacks a big reputation. But it certainly doesn't lack for big goals. One of them will shock you.

"Before the season began our goal was to go 10-0 before we got into SEC play," senior forward Stanley Asumnu said moments after the Vols moved to 7-1 by battering Alabama A&M 93-68 Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

With perennial powers Texas and Oklahoma State on the Vols' pre-conference schedule, the odds against a 10-0 start were prohibitive. Tennessee stunned Texas but fell to Oklahoma State, forcing the Vols to revise their goals a bit.

"When we lost that game it was a tough loss because our goal had been shot," Asumnu said. "But now we have a great opportunity to be 9-1 going into SEC play, so that's what we're looking at."

Although the loss to OSU hurt, it may help the team in the long run. Coach Bruce Pearl's Vols learned a lot from the experience. One lesson: Look forward, not back.

"We learned to put that loss behind us," Asumnu said. "Duke beat Texas, and Texas was probably still thinking about the Duke game when they came out there against us, and we won.

"He (Pearl) didn't want us to be thinking about the Oklahoma State game and not come out and play hard. We put that behind us and did a great job."

As a result, the Vols can achieve their revised goal of a 9-1 pre-conference start by beating Lipscomb Thursday night and South Alabama next Wednesday.

Sophomore guard JaJuan Smith said the Vols learned another valuable lesson in the loss to OSU: You can't let your defensive intensity slip or your opponent may shoot 63 percent against you, as the Cowboys did. Armed with this knowledge, the Vols stuck to Alabama A&M like glue, limiting the Bulldogs to 38-percent shooting.

"We weren't getting beat as much one-on-one off the dribble," Smith said. "Everybody stepped up to the challenge and did real well."

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