Maze is silver lining

Even in Tennessee's worst performance of the season, one Basketball Vol was a bright spot.

Junior college transfer Bobby Maze continued his solid work in Saturday's 88-72 loss at Temple, contributing 15 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes at the point. He was 5 of 10 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the free throw line.

Maze has a team-best 13 steals for the Vols (6-2) and has one of the top assist/turnover ratios in all of college hoops. Through eight games he has 39 of the former and only 10 of the latter. Asked recently which is more impressive – Maze's defense or his assist/TO ratio – Bruce Pearl replied without hesitation.

"I would say the assist/turnover ratio because the numbers are so outstanding," the Vols' head man said. "I feel like Bobby's playing with freedom. I feel like he's playing aggressively."

Although Tennessee plays a very fast tempo, Maze has managed to maintain control of the high-octane offense. Naturally, this endears him to his head coach.

"I think his focus offensively, his respect for the ball (are crucial)," Pearl said. "You've got to have great respect for a possession, and I think that's a really healthy thing to add to this team.

"We play with freedom and we will turn the ball over. For Bobby to come in and not require many turnovers to be free is a wonderful thing."

Although Maze is playing well on defense, Tennessee's overall defensive play is weak. That's particularly true of the full-court press. Temple shredded it repeatedly en route to hitting 55.3 percent of its shots on Saturday.

"I'm pleased with his effort defensively and his growth in the halfcourt," Pearl said of Maze. "But our fullcourt pressure is a long way away."

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