Nov. 4, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee used another explosive output from sophomore Scotty Hopson on Wednesday night to win its second and final exhibition game of the preseason, a 97-58 victory over Division II Lincoln Memorial.
Hopson finished with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Last week he scored 20 points to lead the Vols in a 117-79 win against North Alabama.
"There were areas I wanted to improve on tonight and I thought we did," Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl said. "I thought our defense was better. We would have liked to have shot the ball better. I knew we would struggle because they are a better defensive team. This was a little bit better test for us tonight."
Tennessee did struggle from 3-point range early, shooting 3-of-13 in the first half. The Vols finished 9-of-26 from long range and shot 45.5 percent from the field. They held LMU to 33.3 percent shooting and forced 30 turnovers. UT also won the battle of the boards, 48-34.
Despite leading the Vols in scoring for the second time in as many games, Hopson said the biggest improvement the team has made is defensively.
"We're starting to defend well and teams are shooting 30 and 40 percent on us," he said. "And I think we're starting to rebound better. Coach Pearl is keeping us confident and allowing us to go out there and do what we've got to do, and it's really helping me out."
D'Mario Curry led LMU with 24 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the field.
Tennessee jumped out to an early lead in the contest but the Railsplitters fought back to cut the margin to 11 points midway through the first half. From then on, it was all Vols.
A three-point play by freshman Kenny Hall and a 3-pointer from the wing by Hopson capped a 14-1 run for UT to make it 45-22. The Vols continued their streak in the second half and pushed the lead past 30 when Chism drained a pair of 3-pointers along with one from freshman Skylar McBee.
Pearl then shuffled players in and out the rest of the way to experiment with different lineups as the Vols pulled away.
"I know what Tyler can do. I know what Wayne can do. I need to know what Kenny and Renaldo (Woolridge) and Brian (Williams) can do," Pearl said. "We're done with experimenting. We will go with a 10-man rotation."
The trial-and-error began from the tip as Pearl started Melvin Goins and Cameron Tatum in the backcourt. Goins finished with five assists, and Pearl said his point guard seemed a little fatigued late in the game. Tatum grabbed six rebounds with his six points.
"I thought Cameron, through practice, had deserved the start," Pearl said. "I wanted to start Cameron and J.P. (Prince) came to me before the game and said, `Coach, I know you want to start Cameron and it's either going to be me or Scotty to be replaced, so start him in my place.'"
Prince came off the bench for 20 minutes of action, going 6-of-6 from the free throw line to score eight on the night.
The Vols tip off the regular season Nov. 13 at home against Austin Peay at 9 p.m. ET. But the team will be preparing for the entire month ahead.
"What's next is two hard days. We're going to focus on some advanced scouting these next two days and take a look at Asheville and East Carolina, and then spend all next week on Austin Peay."