Dec. 23, 2009
After Tennessee went a combined 6 of 42 from the 3-point line in games against Wyoming and Southern California, McBee hit three 3s as No. 16 Tennessee scored the first 22 points in a 99-78 victory over North Carolina A&T on Wednesday night.
"You could tell he was annoyed and felt personally responsible for the shooting in the past two games. He looked like he was determined to do something about it," Pearl said.
Tyler Smith and Kenny Hall both scored 16 points. Hall's points, McBee's 12 and J.P. Prince's 10 points were among 60 scored by Tennessee's reserves. Scotty Hopson added 10 points, and Brian Williams grabbed 11 rebounds.
Pearl often credits McBee as the hardest worker on the team, comparing him to the Southeastern Conference's most prolific 3-point shooter, Chris Lofton, who hit 431 3s for Tennessee from 2004-08. Like Lofton, McBee spends more time in the gym than his teammates.
And after they return from their short holiday break, Pearl's going to make sure all the Vols spend the kind of time practicing their shooting that McBee does.
They'll need it with games coming up at Memphis and at home against No. 1 Kansas and a Charlotte team that's already upset Louisville looming.
Though Tennessee (9-2) ended up dominating North Carolina A&T, they looked as if they hadn't overcome the shooting woes that plagued them in a lopsided loss to Southern California on Saturday, missing six of their first seven shots from the field.
But the Aggies (4-8) couldn't compete with the Vols' physical defense. Tennessee had 21 steals, and North Carolina A&T, which was playing the seventh of an eight-game trip, committed 23 of its 34 turnovers in the first half, leading to 33 Tennessee points.
"I believe we are getting better," Hall said. "The USC game was a slight stumble, but we learned from it."
Dwane Joshua led North Carolina A&T with 20 points, while Thomas Coleman scored 16, Tavarus Alston had 15 and Robert Johnson 13. James Porter had 11 rebounds.
The Vols dominated inside with 60 points in the paint, and their lead never dropped below 19 points after the initial run.
Tennessee honored Lofton at halftime, announcing it was naming a basketball recruiting lounge at its practice facility for former shooting guard.
Lofton led the Vols to their only other win over North Carolina A&T, drilling eight 3-pointers in a 93-59 victory on Nov. 27, 2007.
Despite McBee's shooting, it was North Carolina A&T which dominated from outside this time. Alston and Joshua both had three 3s, and the Aggies finished 10 of 33 from behind the arc.
Coach Jerry Eaves stresses the important of the 3-pointer to equalize games against better teams, and the Aggies were ranked 10th nationally with 9.3 per game through Sunday.
"Honestly for our group I am proud of them," Eaves said. "When you have been on the road as long as we have, it is just something you have to go through. We were able to score 78 points, we kept playing and they kept their heads up against a very good team in a hostile situation."