Slay needs rest to be his best

Too much Ron Slay is not a good thing for the UT basketball team. Simply put: A tired Slay is an ineffective Slay. When he gets weary, he gets foul-prone and mistake-prone. Consider:

* Game 11: He played 36 minutes at Ole Miss, fouling out after committing six turnovers.

* Game 12: He played 39 minutes at Florida, committing four fouls and sinking just 7 of 24 field-goal tries.

* Game 13: He played 39 minutes vs. Vanderbilt, scoring just 14 points -- his lowest point total since Dec. 21.

* Game 14: This was an exception to the rule. Slay played 42 of a possible 45 minutes at Georgia, but had perhaps his best outing of the year -- 29 points, eight rebounds, three fouls and four turnovers.

* Game 15: Hampered by foul trouble vs. Louisville, he fouled out after committing five turnovers in just 31 minutes.

* Game 16: Again hampered by foul trouble, he played just 20 minutes vs. South Carolina but still committed six turnovers. Had he played the entire game at that pace, he would've finished the evening with a whopping 12 turnovers.

* Game 17: He played 33 minutes at Auburn but finished with four fouls and five turnovers.

During that seven-game stretch, Slay fouled out of two games and finished three more games with four fouls. That seven-game stretch also saw him register two six-turnover games, two fives and a four.

Now for the good news: After playing just 27 minutes vs. UMass on Wednesday, Slay should be somewhat rested for Saturday's showdown with No. 17 Georgia (3 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena). Head coach Buzz Peterson thinks that's a good omen, noting that most of Slay's foul troubles can be traced to fatigue, not nit-picky officials.

''We've got to have him in there, and he's got to be smart about situations,'' Peterson said. ''I've shown him where he's done some things to cause a foul, and it's come because of fatigue. I really believe they (officlals) have been pretty fair to him.''

Slay used to antagonize officials via showboating and melodramatics but he has toned down his act under Peterson's watch.

''I've been pleased with his personality on the court -- his attitude,'' Peterson said. ''It's been a very businesslike approach. I won't hear this loud voice like I heard a couple of times last year. That's looked at a lot by the younger guys. (Brandon) Crump and (Elgrace) Wilborn watch to see how he acts. When they see him businesslike, then they get businesslike.''

When Slay is rested and businesslike, he plays smart and effectively. He'll need to be at his best Saturday if the Vols are to upend the talented Bulldogs.


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