Pearl pace is hectic

Between practice, games and public appearances, first-year Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl is always on the go. So is his team.

The Vols go all out all the time, even in situations that cause the vast majority of teams to slow the pace.

With a 68-65 lead and a minute to play last Tuesday night vs. Kentucky in Lexington, many coaches would've ordered their teams to milk the clock and try to seal the outcome at the free throw line. Not Pearl.

JaJuan Smith got a defensive rebound and ignited a fast break that ended with a Chris Lofton transition lay-up. Moments later, Lofton made another mad dash to the goal, this one resulting in a three-point play that boosted the lead to 73-65.

So much for milking the clock, huh?

"We're a fast-breaking team, and once we secure the rebound we're looking to run," Pearl says. "We're looking to go. We're not looking to hold the ball. That's why our two-point games become eight-point games."

That's precisely what happened at Rupp Arena. But that's the way Tennessee has sealed several victories this season. Rather than try to run the clock, the Vols try to outrun the opponent. They continue to push the ball in hopes their superior conditioning will result in easy buckets in the closing minutes of games.

This strategy obviously is working. The Vols are 17-3 overall, 8-1 in SEC play and ranked No. 11 nationally. So, it's a safe bet that Tennessee's players, like their coach, will continue to stay on the go all the time.

"The other team is sending four or five guys to the offensive boards," Pearl notes. "If you get a rebound, get out and go, take a lay-up."


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