Body language

At halftime of Sunday's game at South Carolina, Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl looked at the stat sheet and didn't like what he saw.

The Vols shot just 31 percent (9 of 29) from the field.

They shot just 25 percent (3 of 12) from the foul line.

They lost the backboards 21-15.

They trailed on the scoreboard 35-23.

The thing that upset Pearl most, however, didn't show up on the stat sheet.

"I didn't like our body language when we were struggling," Pearl recalled at his Monday news conference. "We talked about it at halftime; I didn't want our heads down. I said, ‘If this gets worse, I'd better see some character out there' because it could've gotten worse."

The Vols proved that in years past. After a slow start last season against Vanderbilt, for instance, Tennessee's players folded and saw things get much worse, eventually losing by 25 on their home floor.

Rather than remind the players of past failures, however, Pearl chose to spend Sunday's halftime break expressing confidence in the Vols' ability to get back in the game.

"I told them I thought it would get better," he said. "They went our there (the second half) and played with great courage."

Indeed. Showing a level of courage and tenacity missing in years past, Tennessee outscored South Carolina 53-34 in the second half to win 76-69. Clearly, there is no quit in this year's team.

"When we were down 12 points, we had a sense about ourselves that we were still going to win the game," junior forward Dane Bradshaw said. "Whereas, before, we felt as though it could possibly be another blowout."

After showing no ability to come from behind and win in years past, the 2005-06 Vols have done so several times this season. Thus, Sunday's frantic rally at South Carolina should be a huge boost to their confidence.

"These guys have had some experience," Pearl said. "They've now come from behind and won."


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