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Tennessee 78 ETSU 66 - A Balanced Effort

When you look at the numbers, it looks like the sort of performance you'd be worried about:  the Vols shoot only 15 of 24 at the free throw line, are basically even on the boards (33-31 Vols) and are even in three point shooting (both teams 7 of 20) against a team with lesser talent but plenty of fight.

But Tennessee spread the wealth around tonight, 78 points on 22 assists, with nine players scoring five points or more.  Between JP Prince's 5 and Tyler Smith's 13, the entire team contributed just enough to keep the Bucs at bay, in a game that was remarkably similar to last week's test against Charleston:  the Vols would build leads of 8-12 points, only to see ETSU work them back down to within 3-5 points, led by Justin Tubbs' game high 22 points.  But the Vols, again, never surrendered the lead, and ultimately knocked the Bucs out late.

Skylar McBee is the team's best run-starter, and he did it again tonight.  He may not see a ton of minutes, but his ability to come in and knock down multiple threes can be huge in sparking the entire team.  And since we're still going to reserve some judgment about Scotty Hopson's inconsistency (4 of 14 tonight, though he hit two big shots late), we should probably reserve judgment about the point guard situation...but the combined line tonight from Bobby Maze and Melvin Goins - 15 points, 8 assists, 1 turnover - was excellent.  If/when Hopson plays to his potential on a nightly basis, there are plenty of other good pieces coming together alongside Tyler & Wayne.

The Vols move to 6-1 on the year and now get a nine day break for final exams.  They'll return next Friday to play MTSU in Nashville in the SEC/Sun Belt Classic.  This team is still coming together...but even in non-blowouts over low-major teams, there are good pieces in play.