Based on what we could gather from the audio only - because none of us wanted to pay eight dollars for the opening round of the Paradise Jam Tournament, Fox Broadband - the Vols kept right on rolling in their third game of the season, beating Conference USA's East Carolina 105-66.
The Vols were sloppy in the first eight minutes, watching ECU jump out to a 19-13 lead. But from there, the Vols went on a 22-3 run and never looked back. It was a big day for Tennessee's guards: Cameron Tatum stayed hot from beyond the arc and finished with 17 points, Bobby Maze had a big day and got 15. And the news continues to be great about Scotty Hopson's maturation process, which looks more and more like the real deal every game: Hopson puts in 25 points before coming out with eight minutes left in the game, shooting 10-of-15 and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Hopson has been the best player on the floor in all three games thus far.
When you combine the great offensive guard play with a swarming defense that forced 35 turnovers and a balanced attack that got 48 points in the paint and 48 points off turnovers, it's all good news for the Vols. Tyler Smith is still around with 13 points, and the Vols utilized an 11 man rotation, including Renaldo Woolridge who had 8 points, to wear ECU out. The Vols shot 13-of-26 from three as a team, and even better, 12-of-14 at the free throw line. All good.
The Vols will now face DePaul in the tournament semifinals Sunday night at 6:00 PM EST (a game we believe will be seen on Fox Sports South or SportSouth). The Blue Demons upset defending Missouri Valley tournament champions Northern Iowa 60-52, a big win for a team that went 0-18 in the Big East last year. The Vols will play Monday evening at some point, depending on the outcome of Sunday's game, with #7 Purdue as well as Boston College, St. Joseph's and South Dakota State lurking in the other half of the bracket.