Lady Vol legend Pat Summitt was one of three coaches who tried to light a fire under the Vols Friday. The other two were Vol head man Bruce Pearl and associate head coach Tony Jones, who handled the final 5:25 after Pearl was ejected. In the end, none of the three could help Tennessee contain Charleston's senior guard tandem, which is why the Big Orange came out on the short end of a 91-78 score.
Basically, Andrew Goudelock and Donavan Monroe carved up the Vol defense like a Christmas turkey. Goudelock hit 10 of 15 shots (6 of 7 from 3) and finished the day with 31 points. Monroe hit 7 of 11 attempts (4 of 7 from 3) and finished with 27 points. They also combined for 10 assists.
With their star guards leading the way, the Cougars torched Tennessee's defense to the tune of 57.1 percent (28 of 49) from the floor and 56.0 percent (14 of 25) from 3.
"In the games that we've gotten beat guards have taken advantage of us," Pearl said after watching his team lose for the fourth time in its last six games after a 7-0 start. "Tonight College of Charleston's guards took full advantage of us."
Charleston is reminiscent of the early Pearl teams that featured the hot-shooting backcourt duo of Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith. Goudelock and Monroe routinely fired from well behind the 3-point arc, then drove to the basket whenever Tennessee would overplay the perimeter jump shot.
"It's ungodly how far you've got to come out on 'em," Pearl said. "Yet they're also quick enough to turn corners."
Charleston came out on fire - hitting seven of its first eight field-goal attempts (five of five from 3) en route to a 20-9 lead just five minutes into the action. The Cougars cooled only slightly over the next six minutes, standing 13 of 19 from the field and 7 of 11 from 3 en route to a 35-15 lead with 9:02 left to intermission.
"That was tough," Vol freshman Tobias Harris conceded. "They made some really tough shots throughout the game, and in the beginning they kind of killed us with the 3-ball."
Although defensive lapses by Tennessee contributed to Charleston's success, Goudelock and Monroe made several bombs as the shot clock was winding down. That inspired the Cougars and deflated the Vols.
"They stepped up and made big shots. They played great," Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson said. "They made the extra pass when they needed to ... played like a team."
Charleston returned to Earth the final nine minutes of the half, enabling Tennessee to close to 47-40 by intermission. The visitors opened the second half with another hot streak, however, hitting 8 of 13 shots (4 of 8 from 3) in padding the lead to 71-53 with 10:47 left.
The score was 73-58 when Summitt came out of the stands to try and rally the home team. As if on cue, Hopson nailed a 3 that narrowed the gap to 73-61. The rally would be short-lived, though.
Monroe was bumped by Josh Bone on a drive to the basket, prompting some comments by Pearl that got him "teed up." Goudelock made the two technical free throws, then Pearl got another technical - and automatic ejection - for launching another verbal barrage. Goudelock made one of two this time, bumping a 76-63 lead to 79-63 with 5:25 to play.
Choosing his words carefully, Pearl later explained that he got the technical fouls because he voiced his opinion that fouls being called on Charleston's end of the floor were not being called as stringently on Tennessee's end.
Monroe finally stepped to the line to try and capitalize on the personal foul call against Bone. Monroe missed the 1-and-1, meaning Charleston would not have scored on the possession without the free throws stemming from Pearl's two technicals.
With Pearl gone to the dressing room and Jones calling the shots, Tennessee whittled the deficit to nine points (87-78) on a 3-pointer by Bone with 1:29 left. The Vols would not score again, however.
Incredibly, the Vols pulled down 28 offensive rebounds and launched 31 more shots (80 to 49) than Charleston. Still, they made just two more baskets (30 to 28) than the visitors. The hot-shooting Cougars, also 9-4, won by hitting nine more 3-pointers (14 to 5) and eight more free throws (21 to 13).
"They were 14 for 25 from behind the 3-point line, which is tremendous," Bone said. "They shot it great. They had confidence the whole game because we didn't do enough pressuring on 'em."