Pearl's positives

Tennessee's basketball team shot just 43.5 percent from the field Friday night against Murray State. In addition, it committed 16 turnovers and made just 9 of 16 foul shots line in the first half.

Still, the youthful Big Orange did enough good things to notch an 89-64 triumph, move to 6-2 on the young season and suggest that better days lie ahead.

For one thing, the undersized Vols dominated the backboards 43-30. For another, they dished out 18 assists while committing a manageable 16 turnovers. They recorded 11 steals en route to recording 23 turnovers.

That was enough to put a smile on the face of head coach Bruce Pearl.

"When you outrebound somebody 13, you have a positive assist/turnover ratio and you turn 'em over 23 times ... well, that's how we play," the second-year Vol coach said. "We make people play sloppy."

Perhaps the most encouraging development of all occurred at the free-throw line. After shooting just 53.6 percent in the first half, the Vols bounced back to hit 78.9 percent (15 of 19) after intermission. That basically mirrored the free-throw performance against Louisiana-Lafayette one game earlier. In that one the Vols shot 25 percent (2 of 8) before halftime but 80 percent (8 of 10) after halftime.

"We shot a good free-throw percentage the second half ... 80 percent at Lafayette, 79 percent in the second half today," Pearl said. "That's a good sign because I know our free-throw shooting has been challenging. And we got to the line 35 times, so the ball's going inside."

All things considered, the head man said there were "a lot of positives" in the performance.

The Vols need to take several more positive steps Wednesday, when they host Memphis in a 9 o'clock tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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