Jan. 4, 2006
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Bruce Pearl: "I told the team earlier in the week that this could be an important game for the post season if we get near the bubble. It could help us, or it could hurt us. South Alabama is a good team. We did well in taking them out of the range where they could win the game.
"Major Wingate stepped up, and Chris Lofton gave us some valuable baskets. Eddie DeBro came off the bench to help us when we had some foul trouble. C.J. Watson took charge late in the game to seal the victory.
"It is a new season - we will try to prepare hard for SEC games. Who is not bowl-eligible in the East? Anybody who talks about the SEC having a down year has not been keeping up with basketball, especially in the East. Who is going to falter?
"Every player on this team is helping the cause, and our numbers are up. Major Wingate is getting comfortable with what he can do. If South Alabama has a weakness, it is they are not big inside, and that is where we went.
"We respected South Alabama. They came in with their best start in 23 years. We have been working on making the extra pass. Defense and rebounding continue to be our biggest challenges. Dane Bradshaw did not score much, but he played a great game."
SOUTH ALABAMA HEAD COACH JOHN PELPHREY: "They are outstanding - the best we have played so far in terms of those guards and their shooters. They really shoot the basketball. They got some really good opportunities against us in transition when we turned it over.
"They do a really great job of finding Chris Lofton and that guy, C.J. Watson, is not approaching 500 assists for nothing. We gave up way too many 3-pointers without question and I thought the big kids played well up front, both Andre Patterson and Major Wingate.
"It was not one of our better efforts just in terms of executing the game plan. I think Tennessee had a lot to do with that. We have a lot to look at, learn from and get better."
- C.J. Watson became the fourth Vol to reach the 500-assist milestone as he dished out five tonight. He is just the second Vol to have 1,000 points (1,130) and 500 assists (503). Tony Harris (1997-2001) is the only other Vol to accomplish the feat with 1,588 points and 509 assists.
- The Vols have recorded at least 10 steals in each of their last six games.
- Eddie DeBro played a career-high nine minutes. He had played a total of 21 minutes in eight career games entering the contest. He set career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
- Dane Bradshaw set a career high with eights assists as the Vols set a season high with 29 assists as a team, bettering the 28 it had against Alabama A&M.
- Tennessee shot a season-best 56.5 percent from the field, bettering the 55.4 percent it shot against Alabama A&M.
- Tennessee committed a season-low eight turnovers, bettering the nine done twice.