published Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Vols know mistakes, want to look ahead

KNOXVILLE -- After losing to Connecticut on Saturday, the Tennessee men's basketball team felt it was best to move on and turn the focus forward.

The Volunteers didn't take any time to look back.

"We didn't watch any of the UConn footage," reserve guard Josh Bone said after practice Monday, referring to UT's 72-61 loss. "We knew what we did wrong."

The focus now turns to the Southeastern Conference schedule, which resumes Wednesday against LSU at home. And though the Vols chose not to dwell on the mistakes they made that let Saturday's game slip away in the second half, they still had to talk about the inconsistency that's plagued them since mid-December.

"I think we've excelled in some areas, and then we've taken some steps back in areas that we shouldn't be taking steps back in," said junior guard Cameron Tatum, who is UT's third-leading scorer but has scored just six points on 2-for-16 shooting in the last three road games.

"To become a good team you've got to continue to excel in many different aspects of the game. Once you get better at one thing, you can't take a step back in another. Some of those things we just haven't been doing a good job of."

Added senior center Brian Williams: "That's stuff we've been working on, stuff we've been talking about while we've been losing, and I don't think we've been changing it.

"The games we've won we obviously changed it, but we often revert back to that and we shouldn't. It comes down to individuals."

Whether with poor defense, turnovers or shooting troubles, the Vols have been up and down all season, winning just five times in 12 games following a 7-0 start.

"Which teams get better throughout the season?" coach Bruce Pearl asked at his weekly news conference Monday afternoon. "We had to be pretty good early because of the schedule, and we were, and then have we gotten consistently better since December? Obviously we haven't.

"There have been times we've obviously we've really played well. We've played 19 ballgames -- enough at this point to be able to understand how to play together, understand what our roles are and understand what we need from everybody."

Pearl was pointed in his criticism of Scotty Hopson after Saturday's game, pointing out the junior guard's inconsistencies as the source of inconsistency for the team. Pearl has been hard publicly on Hopson in the past and has very high expectations of the former McDonald's High School All-American.

"Scotty's accountable [and] I think he understands the inconsistency," Pearl said. "I think the big thing is don't allow one play to have a factor into the next play, especially if it's going to be negative. If Scotty makes a shot, does it help him make the next shot or get the next rebound? Yes, it does.

"If Scotty doesn't make a play or turns it over, does it help contribute to the next turnover? Unfortunately, yes, it does, and you've just got to try to move on through that and play through those mistakes."

With a dozen SEC games left for a team trying to solidify its postseason standing, eliminating mistakes or playing through them becomes even more important.

"The confidence is still there," Bone said. "We had a good practice today and we're ready to go."

Follow our Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter by following this link.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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