Nov. 13, 2009
Hopson Headband Folly Part of Fun Night for Vols
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Senior center Wayne Chism's white headband lay on the court at Thompson-Boling Arena midway through the first half of Friday night's game against Austin Peay. Noticing his teammate's stray garment on the court could be a distraction, sophomore Scotty Hopson flicked the band over to the assistant coaches. But instead of the headband landing where he intended, it sailed right into Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, hitting him in the chest before dropping in front of his feet.
It was one of the few times Hopson's aim was off in the 83-52 season-opening win, as the high-flying wing led the Vols with 16 points, including four treys, on 6-of-8 shooting.
"I saw the headband and went to pick it up for Wayne," Hopson said. "I went to throw it and Bruce stepped in the way, so I accidentally hit him. It was an accident but it turned out to be funny. "
With the headband below him, Pearl paused for dramatic effect before picking it up and nearly pulling it onto his head. The crowd went wild.
"I thought for a second about putting it on," Pearl said with a smirk. "Then I stopped. I realized that would not be the appropriate thing to do. Believe or not I occasionally think about what's appropriate and what's not appropriate. I brought it up to my head and I wanted to get a reaction from the crowd. We were just having fun."
Nobody had as much fun as Hopson, who finished a pair of breathtaking alley-oops and cocked back a reverse jam in the second half.
He also began the game by drilling three of his first four 3-point attempts as Tennessee jumped out to a commanding 27-10 lead in the first half.
"Tonight was just Tennessee basketball at its finest," Hopson said. "When we have an opportunity to force teams into turnovers and get the game going to a fast tempo, that's the way we love to play. We came out tonight focused and used a lot of effort and intensity to have an up-tempo game."
Knoxville, Tenn. (AP) -- The return of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's signature speedy, full-court press got off to a slow start.
The Volunteers finally found their groove after halftime, and Scotty Hopson scored 16 points to lead No. 10 Tennessee to an 83-54 victory over Austin Peay on Friday night.
"We've just got to stay consistent," said Cameron Tatum, who scored 15 off the bench. "We're a very unselfish program, and I think we're starting to get a grasp on that. Once it all comes together like we're supposed to, it's going to be special."
Coaching a young squad through a rebuilding season, Pearl slowed down the game last year. That should change with returning players accounting for 95.4 percent of Tennessee's scoring.
The Vols were sloppy and slow in the first half against the Governors (0-1), going 43.3 percent from the field. They ramped up their pressing defense, though, wearing down Austin Peay in the second half and helping to create scoring opportunities.
The Vols out-rebounded the Governors 27-15 and shot 53.8 percent after the break.
The Governors managed only 34.5 percent from the field in the game and turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 22 Tennessee points.
"They obviously wore us down with their size and athletic ability," Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. "I was pleased with the way we made a little run at the end of the first half. We just couldn't come out in the second half and get anything going."
Tennessee led by only six at halftime, and preseason All-SEC pick Tyler Smith encouraged his fellow Vols to face the second half as if they were down by 10 points.
They scored the first nine out of the break, and Tatum's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 43-27 with 14:28 to go.
"We got great leadership from Tyler Smith. Tyler Smith played outstanding tonight. He made great energy," Pearl said. "I was really, really pleased with his effort, his effectiveness, his leadership, his attitude."
Smith finished with 14 and 11 rebounds, and Wayne Chism had 11 points and 10 boards.
Anthony Campbell led a young Austin Peay team with 17 points. Wesley Channels added 13 and Tyrone Caldwell had 11. The Governors rank eighth in the nation for fewest upperclassmen.
Tennessee went on a 15-0 run in the middle of the first half, thanks to some help from Smith's defensive rebounding. Hopson hit two 3-pointers, and Chism's layup gave the Vols a 27-10 lead with 7:12 before halftime.
The Governors answered with a 13-2 run. Caldwell scored eight during the stretch, and Wesley Channels sank a fast-break layup with 24 seconds left to cut Tennessee's lead to 31-25.
"Obviously coach Pearl said something to them in the locker room. They came out and had a great start to the second half," Campbell said. "I hate halftime because if we had that same momentum we would have probably stayed with them at the start of the second half."
Tennessee is 5-0 in season openers under Pearl, and the Vols' average margin of victory in those games is 27.8 points. Pearl now has 99 wins with the Volunteers.
Loos is in his 20th season leading the Governors. With 314 wins, he's six victories shy of becoming the Ohio Valley Conference's all-time winningest coach.
"I think we showed some good things," Loos said. "Tennessee is as-advertised for the whole game."