They're up, then they're down

Watching Tennessee's point-guard play this season is a lot like watching a basketball being dribbled: Up and down, up and down, up and down.

- The lead guards clearly were down in Game 1 vs. Austin Peay. Starter Bobby Maze hit just 1 of 5 shots with more turnovers (5) than assists (3). Backup Melvin Goins was only slightly better, going 2 of 6 from the floor with 4 assists and 3 turnovers.

- The duo bounced back in a big way in Game 2 vs. UNC Asheville. Maze was 6 of 9 with 7 assists and only 1 turnover. Goins was nearly as sharp, hitting 5 of 10 shots with 5 assists and 0 turnovers.

- They were still up in Game 3 vs. East Carolina. Maze was 5 of 10 with 3 assists and 1 turnover. Goins was 4 of 8 with 5 assists and 0 turnovers.

- The slow pace of Game 4 vs. DePaul affected both players. Maze was 0 of 4 shooting with 2 assists and 0 turnovers. Goins was 2 of 5 with 3 assists and 2 turnovers.

- Maze had a decent game in Game 5 vs. Purdue, going 4 of 9 with 2 assists and 0 turnovers, but Goins struggled mightily - 0 of 4 with 0 assists and 3 turnovers.

- Game 6 vs. College of Charleston saw mediocre play from the point guards. Maze was 2 of 5 with 4 assists and 4 turnovers. Goins was 0 of 2 with 2 assists and 1 turnover.

- Except for Maze's shooting (2 of 8), both players bounced back in Game 7 vs. ETSU. Maze had 5 assists and 0 turnovers. Goins, 2 of 3 from the field, had 4 assists and 1 turnover.

- The two point guards shot well in Game 8 vs. Middle Tennessee - Maze going 5 of 9, Goins 3 of 6 - but neither did much dishing. Maze finished with 3 assists and 1 turnover, Goins with 0 assists and 2 turnovers.

- Game 9 vs. Wyoming was more of the same. Maze (2 of 5) and Goins (3 of 3) contributed some scoring but did a lousy job of setting up their teammates. Maze finished with 1 assist and 1 turnover, Going with 0 assists and 3 turnovers. Getting 1 assist from the point-guard position in an entire game is inexcusable.

- Game 10 vs. Southern Cal was a virtual replay of Game 9, except the opponent was better and the outcome was a loss. Maze (4 of 9) and Goins (3 of 8) provided some points but couldn't get the offense rolling, again combining for just 1 assist. Maze finished with 0 assists and 0 turnovers, Goins with 1 assist and 1 turnover. Both guards were seriously outplayed by USC's Mike Gerrity.

- Game 11 vs. North Carolina A&T was a mixed bag. Goins started, went 0 of 3 from the floor and recorded more turnovers (3) than assists (2). Maze, coming off a flu virus, went 1 of 7 from the floor but had a good ratio of assists (5) to turnovers (0).

Although many UT fans are down on the point-guard duo, head coach Bruce Pearl is generally supportive.

"I thought Melvin did a good job, particularly to start the game," he said following the A&T game. "Defensively, he set the tone. Bobby didn't have his legs (recent flu virus) and probably did not have much energy. Still, he had five assists and no turnovers, so he did a nice job with that."

A good point guard runs a team's attack and sets a game's tone with his energy and determination. In these areas Maze and Goins have been ... well, up and down. Pearl felt their energy was good last time out, though.

"I thought there was a little bit more intensity," he said, "but we need to continue to ratchet it up. I don't think we can turn somebody over 34 times and get 21 steals without bringing some energy."

That's probably true. But with Memphis (10-2), Charlotte (9-2) and No. 1 Kansas (11-0) on tap, Tennessee's point-guard play had better "ratchet it up" tremendously these next two weeks. Otherwise, UT's 9-2 record could be slipping to 9-5 in short order.


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