Vols basketball gets easy 1st test

Vols basketball gets easy 1st test

November 4th, 2010 by Wes Rucker in Sports - College

KNOXVILLE -- The score was never going to be in doubt Wednesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena, with the 23rd-ranked University of Tennessee men's basketball team hosting Brevard for an exhibition opener.

Brevard returned most of its nucleus from a team that played in the NCAA Division II tournament, but the Volunteers reloaded with a handful of top-shelf talents after playing in last season's Elite Eight.

"The key word is patience," Vols coach Bruce Pearl said. "But all these [new] guys, they're as good as they are because they're somewhat impatient."

UT cruised to a 91-42 win, but that wasn't what 17,878 came to see. They came to see a trio of highly touted freshmen -- forward Tobias Harris, wing Jordan McRae and point guard Trae Golden -- as well as 6-foot-9 senior forward John Fields, a transfer from UNC Wilmington.

Harris's 16 points were only surpassed by junior guard Scotty Hopson's game-high 17, and Harris added five rebounds in 23 minutes. Golden had 11 points, four assists, two rebounds and no turnovers in 15 minutes, and the high-flying McRae had five points, seven rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes.

"This is the first time you've seen my freshmen," Pearl said. "I think what you saw was OK, somewhat representative, but I think Trae can play better than what he did today. Jordan McRae, same thing. ... But Tobias was Tobias. He's just solid. He had a couple of unforced turnovers there, but I thought Tobias was fairly representative of what we've been seeing.

"It's very unusual to have a guy like Tobias. Tobias doesn't look like a freshman. He doesn't carry himself like a freshman. He doesn't play like a freshman."

Harris, one of the nation's highest rated incoming prospects, was his typical, low-key self afterward.

"My mindset was just to come out there, help my team win the game and play how I usually play," Harris said. "I wanted to get in my comfort zone and just play my game, and I think I did OK."

Golden said he fought through "a little bit of jitters at the beginning."

"But I got in my rhythm in the second half a little bit, and it got better," Golden added. "But better things will come. Much better things."

Fields had six points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots in 18 minutes.

"I missed a few opportunities to block some shots in the first half, and Coach Pearl sat me down and ripped me and little bit," Fields said. "He said, 'John, I brought you here to block some shots,' so I came out aggressive in the second half and blocked some shots."

And he's going to block many more, Pearl said.

"John Fields is going to get that shot-blocking, single-game record," Pearl said. "It's only six. He's going to get that. He had some nice moments out there, had a nice presence out there."

UT played without junior guard Cameron Tatum (knee) and sophomore forward Kenny Hall (foot), and senior guard Josh Bone only played the final four minutes because he just returned from a pulled quadriceps muscle.

The Vols have one more exhibition game Monday against D-II Indianapolis before hosting the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in a Nov. 12 regular-season opener.