Three games later, you'd be hard pressed to argue that the new-look Vols aren't better than the old model. Dismissals and suspensions have done nothing but make this team stronger thus far, as Tennessee's six scholarship/three walk-on rotation was impressive for the third straight outing, beating Auburn 81-55 tonight in the Vols' SEC opener.
Common themes continue to emerge, the first of which being the balance of this new rotation:
- Bobby Maze 14 points, 9 assists, 1 turnover
- J.P. Prince 14 points
- Wayne Chism 12 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals
- Scotty Hopson 11 points
- Kenny Hall 10 points, 4 rebounds
Another common theme continues to be overcoming adversity in a big way, on and off the floor. The Vols almost blew a huge lead against Charlotte, then pulled away. Kansas could've taken the Vols with and early lead or a late comeback, but Tennessee held firm. And tonight, Auburn came out on fire, hitting 10 threes in the first half and building a lead of a dozen...and the Vols responded by erasing that lead before halftime, then outscoring the Tigers 43-18 in the second half.
The competition steps back up in 40 hours, when the Vols host Ole Miss on Saturday at 1:30 PM EST. But this team is tough, balanced, fun to watch and fun to cheer for...and again, they're better. No exaggeration and no cliches involved. And if they can stay healthy and keep moving forward, I look forward to them carrying our university to more good days in the future.