Crump Factor Keys Another Victory

Tennessee's victory over Mississippi State was highlighted by a great start, solid defense, clutch free throw shooting and another SEC Player of the Year type performance by Ron Slay, but the Crump Factor was at the very center of its core.

Called the Crump Factor — because of the statistical data that testifies to the fact the Vols are at their competitive best when Crump is at his individual best — it was again a key component in a big Tennessee triumph. Brandon Crump's 16-point effort against the Bulldogs took pressure off Slay and helped create scoring opportunities from the foul-line where Crump knocked down 4-of-5 and Slay hit 5-of-8.

His defensive presence in the low post helped the Vols hold the Bulldogs physical front court of Mario Austin (6-9, 255), Michal Ignerski (6-9, 230) and Marcus Campbell (7-0, 258) to seven field goals and 22 points, while drawing 11 fouls from the big dog trio.

Critical contributions by Crump are common to Tennessee's finest victories this season. In fact, his three biggest scoring games came in Vol victories over three ranked opponents. In addition to his 16 vs. No. 21 Mississippi State, Crump also scored 16 in the win over No. 17 Georgia and a season-high 19 in the upset of No. 4 Florida.

Tennessee is 5-0 this season when Crump scores 15 or more; 7-1 when he scores 14 or more and 9-2 when he scores at least 11. Conversely, the Vols are 0-3 when Crump scores four or less.

Overall Crump has average 11.8 points in Tennessee victories and 7.8 points in UT losses. While that four points doesn't seem overly significant, it would have made the difference in four Tennessee losses this season which is the difference between being 20-6 and being 16-10 on the season, and the difference in being 8-7 and 10-5 in the SEC.

In other words, it's the difference between the Vols having their tickets punched for the Big Dance and standing on the outside hoping to get in.

Obviously, having an inside scoring presence opens opportunities for Slay not just around the basket, but also at mid-range and from the perimeter. Two scoring threats inside forces defenses to collapse more which creates shots for the guards. It also allows Tennessee to run it's high-low game which can create creases to exploit off the dribble and position for offensive boards.

It really allows the Vols to get better spacing on the offensive end and forces the defense to be on the defensive.

At the very least, the Crump Factor is a barometer worth monitoring as the Vols wrap up the regular season on Saturday and head to the season of survive and advance.

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