Point guards are doing OK

Inexperienced points guards were supposed to be Tennessee's downfall this basketball season. They performed pretty well Wednesday night against No. 16 Memphis, however, helping spark a 76-58 victory.

Starter Jordan Howell played 18 minutes without a turnover. He made his only field-goal try – a 3-pointer – hit both of his foul shots, grabbed a couple of rebounds and dished out 2 assists

Backup Ramar Smith, who is improving on a game-by-game basis, made just 1 of 7 from the floor but was 5 of 6 from the foul line. He finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, a steal and 2 turnovers in 23 solid minutes.

Although Howell and Smith didn't win the game, they did nothing to lose it.

"I thought point guard play was phenomenal for us," senior captain Dane Bradshaw said. "Jordan and Ramar turned it over just two times the whole game."

Howell bagged his 3-pointer with 10:15 to go in the first half, giving Tennessee the lead for good at 15-13. The 6-3 junior hit his two free throws with 3:15 remaining, padding the Vol lead to 72-56 and helping seal the deal.

Smith, a 6-2 freshman, got his bucket on a put-back after scrambling to secure a loose ball. The score came midway through a 25-3 outburst that turned an 18-17 lead into a 43-20 bulge. He also made some clutch free throws, draining a pair with 4:37 to play that gave Tennessee a 67-52 lead.

"Ramar Smith's making progress," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "He had a plus-20 in the first half (UT outscored Memphis by 20 points while he was in the lineup). When he was on the floor we were really good."

The coach was not at all concerned that Smith missed six of seven shots on drives to the basket, noting: "Ramar (someday) will make a lot of those plays he couldn't finish. When you're a first-year freshman, it's tough."

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