Major's more active

One of the most encouraging developments in Tennessee's 69-58 defeat of Lipscomb Thursday night didn't show up in the box score. You had to be there to see it.

Major Wingate, the Vols' 6-foot-10 junior center, took seven of Tennessee's first 25 shots. He made just two of these but that's still a good sign. Why? Because Wingate's greatest shortcoming has always been a lack of aggressiveness on offense. Apparently fancying himself to be the world's largest point guard, he'd get the ball down low, then look to pass rather than shoot.

Thursday night was different, though. Wingate worked extremely hard to get open and, as a result, got some very good looks near the basket in the opening 20 minutes. He missed them all, though, so his only two buckets of the first half came on a 3-pointer and on a tip-in.

"They just weren't dropping," he said afterward. "We work on shooting all day every day but they just weren't falling. Coach (Bruce Pearl) has faith in me and I have faith in my shot, so I'm not going to change anything. If I'm open I'm going to shoot."

That's debatable. After muscling up seven shots in the game's first 15 minutes, Wingate tried just four shots the last 25 minutes.

"If I feel like I'm not playing well, I'm not going to shoot as much," he conceded. "I'll just try to set everybody else up. That's one thing I take pride in … getting everyone else open and get everyone else involved."

Wingate finished 5 of 11 from the field and 2 of 2 from the foul line. He totalled 13 points, including the 3-pointer from the top of the key. Asked if Pearl is OK with him shooting from beyond the arc, Wingate grinned broadly.

"He don''t care where we shoot from," the player replied. "If we think we can make it he has confidence in our whole team."

Wingate was just as aggressive on defense as he was on offense. On one Lipbsomb possession, Brian Fisk had a layup blocked by Wingate, got the ball back, then had his follow shot blocked by Wingate. Major finished with three blocks. More importantly, he limited burly Shaun Durant, Lipscomb's 6-foot-8, 250-pound center to 2 points, nine below his season's average.

"I just had to take him out of the game early," Wingate said. "That's what I try to do to every threat inside. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that to LaMarcus Aldridge (of Texas) but I got it done tonight."

Wingate's performance against Lipscomb is noteworthy because Durant is the type of rugged post player Tennessee will be facing on a regular basis once SEC play opens.

"Yeah, he's a big body, strong, runs pretty well," Wingate said. "That's what we're going to be expecting all year … a good match-up."

Although Wingate peeled off a season-high 7 rebounds against Lipscomb, the Bisons won the backboard battle 43-33. Can the 8-1 Vols continue losing the boards and winning games?

"I don't think so," Wingate said. "We've definitely got to pick up our rebounding. We're not going to be able to win every game by our defense, especially in the SEC."


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