"Huh" shots

Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl gives his players a lot of freedom in determining which shots they should take. Even he has limits, however. That's why he keeps up with what he calls "huh" shots.

This is a shot so ill-advised that the coach is moved to mumble "Huh?"

Not surprisingly, the Vols' shooting percentage usually reflects the number of "huh" shots taken. When the number of "huh" shots is high, the percentage will be lower. When the number of "huh" shots is low, the percentage tends to be higher.

Sometimes the number rises or falls within the context of a single game. Saturday's home-floor defeat of South Carolina was a prime example. Tennessee attempted minimal "huh" shots in the first half. As a result, the Vols hit 50 percent from the floor and led 33-22 at the break, even though star guard Chris Lofton was held scoreless.

When an injured ankle forced Lofton to the bench two minutes into the second half, however, the Vols' shot selection apparently went with him. Tennessee took a half-dozen or so bad shots thereafter, shooting just 33.3 percent for the half and holding on for dear life to win 64-61.

Pearl mentioned this when asked about senior Dane Bradshaw – 0 of 4 from the field – being held scoreless in the game.

"It's hard for Dane to look to be more aggressive getting his shot when we still are taking a handful of ‘huh' shots," Pearl said. "I thought we got some good looks that didn't go down. But we still had our handful of questionable shots, and then it was hard for Dane to go ahead and jack one."

The 64 points vs. Carolina were the fewest Tennessee had scored since losing 56-44 to Butler way back on Nov. 22. Losing Lofton contributed to the paltry total. So did shot selection. There was a bigger factor at work, though.

"There were probably 40 percent fewer possessions in that game than our average game because of how patient South Carolina is and their ball control," Pearl said.

Tennessee generally scores a lot of points off opposing turnovers. That didn't happen Saturday night, however.

"It's hard to press because they're small and they handle the ball well," Pearl said of the Gamecocks. "We couldn't create more possessions (via turnover). Therefore, we knew it could be a tight ball game."

In fact, it was the kind of tight game that could've been lost if the Vols had launched a few more "huh" shots.


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