Maze leads UT against Zags

Ten players have contributed significantly to the 5-0 record Tennessee's 12th-ranked basketball team carries into tonight's showdown against No. 9 Gonzaga but none more so than the Vols' first-year point guard.

Junior college transfer Bobby Maze has been nothing short of phenomenal thus far. He's averaging 9.0 points and 26.8 minutes per game. He's shooting 55.6 percent (15 of 27) from the floor, 60 percent (3 of 5) from 3-point range and 70.6 percent (12 of 17) from the foul line. His assist-to-turnover ratio is better than 6 to 1, thanks to 32 of the former and just five of the latter.

"Bobby Maze ... Wow! He's everything we dreamed he would be, and then some," said UT head coach Bruce Pearl, who will be seeking his 400th career victory tonight against the Zags. "He's a great kid from a great family, a hard worker."

The Vols appeared to be in dire straits last spring when one point guard (Jordan Howell) exhausted his eligibility and the other (Ramar Smith) elected to transfer. UT assistant Steve Forbes managed to recruit Maze to fill the void, however, and, as Pearl notes, "Things worked out very, very well in our favor."

They certainly worked out in the Vols' favor during Friday's 90-78 defeat of No. 18 Georgetown. Maze was 4 of 4 from the field, 2 of 2 from beyond the arc and 4 of 7 from the foul line. The 6-2 junior dished out nine assists without committing a turnover in 33 superior minutes of action. He also recorded three steals.

"He doesn't miss a shot," Pearl noted on his post-game show. "He gets to the foul line seven times ... three steals."

Tonight's game with Gonzaga (7:30 tipoff on ESPN2) is for the Old Spice Classic Championship. The Zags advanced to the title game with an 81-59 blowout of Maryland on Friday.

Interestingly enough, Gonzaga coach Mark Few is one of only two NCAA Div. I-A coaches with a better winning percentage than Pearl. North Carolina's Roy Williams is No. 1 at .808, thanks to 566 wins in 700 games. Few ranks second at an even .800, with 240 wins and 60 losses. Pearl is third at .787, with 399 wins and 108 defeats.


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