The three D's

The Tennessee basketball team's report card for this week shows three D's … but that's a good thing. It's a very good thing, in fact. The three D's in this instance stand for Drive, Draw and Dish.

That is the core of the Vols' offensive philosophy: DRIVE to the basket, DRAW the defense to you, then DISH to an open teammate. Tennessee's execution of this simple principle was brilliant Tuesday night, which is why the Big Orange was able to upset No. 20 Kentucky 89-85. Consider:

It enabled the Vols to shoot 49 percent against a Big Blue defense that normally allows just 39 percent.

It enabled the Vols to shoot 37.5 percent from 3-point range against a Wildcat team that normally allows only 31 percent.

It enabled the Vols to hang 89 points on a Big Blue team that allows an average of just 65 per game.

It enabled the Vols to dish out a whopping 25 assists with just 8 turnovers. To achieve this type of assist/turnover ratio against one of the NCAA's premier defensive teams was truly remarkable.

Even UT coach Bruce Pearl was impressed, noting: "Twenty-five assists and eight turnovers is really quite an accomplishment."

The key to that accomplishment, of course, was Tennessee's superior execution of the three D's.

"It's all about drive-draw-dish," freshman post Wayne Chism said. "That's what we're doing, and everybody's getting shots. We're balancing pretty well right now because everybody's playing together and being unselfish."

Tennessee's balance was exceptional against the Big Blue. Chism (16) and fellow freshman Duke Crews (18) combined for 34 points on the inside, while Chris Lofton (23) and JaJuan Smith (9) combined for 32 from the perimeter.

Smith is thrilled by the Vols' new-found balance.

"At the beginning of the season this is what were trying for – to all get on the same page at the end of the season," he said. "Right now we're doing that. We just have to take it one game at a time and keep trying to grind it out as a team."

One player who is really having to "grind" these days is senior Dane Bradshaw. He excels at the drive/draw/dish – recording 17 assists in his last two games combined – but he's mired in the mother of all shooting slumps, having made just 5 of his last 42 field-goal attempts.

Bradshaw was 0 for 5 against Kentucky, missing one 3-pointer and having four inside shots hang on the rim before falling off. He became visibly frustrated as the game progressed.

"Everybody that played scored but Dane," Pearl said, flashing a pained grin. "It's unbelievable. Dane gets nine assists and is a HUGE part of that victory but he absolutely cannot buy a basket."

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