KNOXVILLE — Vols basketball coach Bruce Pearl had seen enough.
So with two quick technical fouls he shook hands with Bobby Cremins and missed the final five-plus minutes of the College of Charleston's 91-78 drubbing of the Vols on Friday afternoon.
"I just wanted to get Tony Jones some reps," Pearl quipped after the loss. "Historically, I've been ejected three times."
The final minutes were a mere formality where the only the final score, not the victor, was in question.
"Defense is our greatest challenge," Pearl said. "In the games where we've got beat, guards have taken advantage of us. Tonight, the College of Charleston guards took full advantage of us."
Charleston shooting guard Andrew Goudelock started hot and finished with a career high 31 points as he surpassed the 2,000 career-points barrier.
Senior point guard Donovan Monroe complimented the Southern Conference preseason player of the with 27 points. Antwaine Wiggins had 15 points and Jeremy Simmons scored 11 for the Cougars (9-4) who built and early lead and maintained a comfortable cushion with a couple exceptions.
"I wish I could tell you hat we shoot it like this all the time, but we don't," Cremins said of his team, which shot 57.1 percent from the floor and 14-of-25 from the 3-point line. "We played so well it's hard to explain. Today, the way we played, we could have beat anybody in the country. I wish we could play like that all the time."
Scotty Hopson led the Vols with 24 points and Tobias Harris had 16 points. The Vols shot 30-of-80 from the floor and had 28 offensive rebounds. It wasn't enough to overcome the Cougars' hot paws.
"The team has just stick together and go back to doing what we were doing at first," Hopson said. "We have to go back to being hungry and having something to prove."
The Cougars jumped out to an early lead by hitting seven of their first eight shots including their first five 3-pointers.
Pearl burned two timeouts early in the game in order to organize the Vols' defense. But Charleston built a 35-15 lead with almost nine minutes to go in the half.
However, their prosperity from the floor vanished for a moment. The Vols went on a 15-2 run — by putting an emphasis on attacking the rim and getting the ball inside — to pull back within 37-30. A 3-point attempt by Hopson in the final seconds of the half hit the iron and set UT into halftime down 47-40.
The Vols pulled within five during the first minute of the second half. But a quick 10-0 run by Charleston put the Vols in a dangerous position — down 17 points with 10:47 to play.
Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt encouraged the crowd of 17,794 to stand up by getting out of her front row seat, waving her arms and screaming, "You gotta get up."
Her encouragement helped — a little bit.
Pearl took center-stage a few minute later. He received one technical, Goudelock stepped to the line, and Pearl continued jabbering which earned him another technical and an early exit with 5:25 to go.
"What's ailing us is not fixed yet," Pearl said.
The Vols will not work on their problems Saturday. The players have the day off and will return to practice on Sunday.
"Our energy level hasn't been good since we came back [from Christmas break]" Pearl said. "We've had one practice and two games in this five-day stretch. I don't think we've had good energy."
Or good defense either.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...