Maze makes mark

Even with his top four backups sidelined, Tennessee's No. 1 point guard refused to pace himself in Monday night's exhibition opener.

Junior college transfer Bobby Maze displayed remarkable hustle and energy as the Vols beat Div. II Indianapolis 87-73 at Thompson-Boling Arena. In 30 minutes running the attack he posted 10 points, 7 assists and a steal. He would've had a double-double if his teammates had finished a little better.

"I want to get my assists up," Maze said. "I've got guys that can score. Cameron Tatum came in and (missed) a couple of drive kickoffs that he normally makes. Wayne Chism had some good looks that he didn't make. Those shots will fall, so I'm looking forward to having even better games (assist-wise) than that."

Head coach Bruce Pearl thought Maze's Vol debut was pretty impressive as it was.

"I thought Bobby did a really nice job," Pearl said. "I thought Bobby showed some really nice defense. He got to the rim really well once he started penetrating. I was pleased."

Defense was Maze's greatest strength as a freshman at Oklahoma University in 2006-07. When academic issues forced him to spend 2007-08 at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, however, he became more offensive-minded, averaging 20.7 points per game last winter.

"When I was at Oklahoma I did a lot of things defensively – more so than offense – so it was hard at juco," he recalled. "I was scoring a lot more points because that's what my team needed me to do, and I don't think I got recognized for my defense. But that's something I'm definitely going to have to bring in order for us to win."

Minus 2007-08 co-starters Ramar Smith and Jordan Howell, Tennessee desperately needs for Maze to provide quality play at the point guard position. Based on Monday's performance, he is entirely capable of doing so.

"It went great," he said. "It was an opportunity to have my first game in a University of Tennessee uniform, and I enjoyed every moment of it. There are things I realize I have to do to get better but it was our first exhibition game, and that's what these exhibition games are for – to learn things."

In addition to superior quickness and ball-handling skills, Maze has an exceptional work ethic and team spirit. Even though the Vols looked ragged Monday night he was thrilled with the bottom line.

"We won, so anytime you get a win I think my performance was good enough," he said. "I felt like I played pretty well."

Maze needs to play well because the Vols have almost no options at the point other than him. With J.P. Prince (injury), Josh Tabb (academics), Daniel West (academics) and Tanner Wild (injury) all sidelined, Tennessee was reduced to playing its No. 6 point guard, Michael Hubert, Monday night vs. Indianapolis.

Asked if he was affected by knowing there was no depth behind him, Maze shook his head emphatically.

"No," he said. "Actually, I think Mike (Hubert) did a great job. He did a good running the team. I didn't see him have any turnovers. I feel comfortable with him backing me up right now, due to what he did in practice. I know you guys (media) don't know a lot about him but I feel good with him being the backup."


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