The Tennessee Volunteers basketball squad opened their 2010-11 campaign Friday night against the
University of Tennessee Chattanooga Mocs.
The Mocs would control the opening tip, but that would be the last time the controlled Friday night’s contest as the Volunteers cruised to a 82-62 win.
“I thought our defensive effort was really good,” Bruce Pearl said. I thought the fact that we had 35 defensive rebounds to their 7 offensive rebounds was significant. We didn’t give them very many second shots, we were a little bit more physical.”
Pearl was quick to praise a Vols defense that helped force 19 Moc turnovers and snagged 10 steals on the night. Point guard Melvin Goins attributed the performance to preparation.
"We just stayed in a stance and we were ready to play," Goins said. "We keyed in and we were really focused. I think everybody, one through five, was ready to play. Our intensity level on the defensive end was great."
An energetic Tennessee squad rebounded well following a loss to Division II Indianapolis just four days ago. The Volunteers jumped out to a sizable halftime lead aided by the stellar play of Melvin Goins and Tobias Harris, who combined for 25 of the Volunteers 45 halftime points.
“We just came back really well from last game," Tobias Harris said. "It felt a lot better, we came out with a lot of energy during warm-ups and you could tell we wanted to win this game big.
"We really went hard this week and we got better as a team. We just had to come out here and handle our business."
Harris would go on to lead the Volunteers in scoring with 18 points. Melvin Goins and Scotty Hopson contributed 13 points apiece, Cameron Tatum connected on three of five field goals for 11 points and John Fields would finish with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
“Tobias is special, he is super solid and a good coach would get him more shots," said Pearl. "This coach will find a way to get him some more looks because he is a very efficient player.”
After struggling getting the ball up the court earlier in the week the Vols controlled the pace early and managed turn the ball over 11 times, a vast improvement over Monday’s performance of 26.
“I thought our point guards did extremely well. I thought Melvin Goins had a terrific game defensively," Pearl said. "He was a real factor out there and shot it really well.”
After missing the majority of the preseason sophomore forward Kenny Hall came off the bench to add 4 points to the Volunteers total. Tennessee fans even got a glimpse of Tyler Summit who entered with under two minutes to play, but left the game scoreless.
The Volunteers will resume play when they welcome Belmont to Thompson-Bowling area Tuesday, November 16 for a 9:30 p.m. tip.