UT may unite points

The Vols' Maze and Goins could get some time in the same backcourt against Georgia.

KNOXVILLE -- It was tough enough for Bobby Maze and Melvin Goins to watch archrival Kentucky pull away in the final minutes Saturday night and beat their Tennessee men's basketball team.

That point guards John Wall and Eric Bledsoe shared the floor to do their damage made it tougher.

"I feel like we could have done the same thing," Goins said moments after the game.

"I know we could have," Maze said a few minutes later.

UT's point guards might get the chance to prove that Wednesday night, when the 20th-ranked Volunteers host improving Georgia in another Southeastern Conference game. Tennessee is 18-6, 9-4 in the league; the Bulldogs are 11-12, 3-7.

Vols coach Bruce Pearl said Monday afternoon that he's looking into the option of giving Maze one rotation each half at the 2 guard position.

"We've needed more productivity at the 2, and we still do, so I do think there is a possibility," Pearl said. "If Bobby and Melvin are both going to play well and compete and step up and play tough on the road, then 40 minutes is not enough for them, so the extra minutes are going to have to come at the 2."

But those minutes won't cut into freshman guard Skylar McBee's minutes, Pearl adamantly stated several times. McBee has struggled recently in the one area where he was expected to excel -- shooting -- but the coach has praised the other quickly developing facets of his game.

"Skylar's still earned his spot," Pearl said. "In the first half against Kentucky on the plus-minus chart, I think Skylar led us with plus-9. He had four rebounds at half, six rebounds for the game, and he did a lot of little things in there that don't show up on the stat sheet.

"If Bobby gets a rotation each half at the 2, then the minutes will come from Scotty (Hopson) and J.P. (Prince). They've been playing 32 or 33 minutes, and maybe then they'd play 29. But those minutes won't come from Skylar."

Maze's chance to play off the ball will decrease when sophomore Cameron Tatum returns from an ankle sprain, but that doesn't seem likely by Wednesday, considering Tatum's swelling and discomfort.

"I've always been a combo guard," Maze said. "I can play the 2, no problem."

Maze and Goins led UT with 15 and 14 points at Kentucky. In 40 minutes, they combined to shoot 9-for-16 from the field and 4-for-8 from 3-point range. The other Vols shot 16-for-44 from the field and 2-for-15 behind the arc.

"I just felt like I needed to play big and give my team a spark for us to have a chance to win," said Goins, who had 11 points, five assists, three rebounds and no turnovers in last Tuesday's loss at Vanderbilt. "I knew I had more in me, and I did. I think I've gotten going. That (Kentucky) game brought a lot of out of me."

Goins' hot streak likely is tied to his recent good legal news. As the 5-foot-9 junior college transfer predicted from soon after his Jan. 1 arrest with three teammates, he ultimately wasn't charged with anything related to the traffic stop that eventually ended Tyler Smith's UT career.

"It's been a big burden off my shoulders," said Goins, whose grade point average topped the 3.0 mark last semester. "Now I can really concentrate on my academics and the basketball side of things and just look forward to what I have going on here and nothing else. It's a good feeling."

And it could force Pearl to tweak the Vols' rotations.

Pearl noted that Maze and Goins both arrived at UT as "scoring point guards," so the Vols wouldn't be handicapped offensively by playing them together.

"They're not playmaking point guards as their primary," Pearl said. "I think they both can continue to score."

Maze said part of his frustration Saturday stemmed from UT always keeping one of its two hottest shooters on the bench.

"That's the way it felt," Maze said. "Me and Melvin are guys that have never had a problem scoring. We just like to get other guys involved, but when things break down we just try to get to the basket and make some shots.

"Sometimes I feel like me and Melvin should be playing together. Bledsoe and Wall are doing it, and I feel like we can do it, too. Both of us can feed off of each other, and both of us are playing well. When I come out and he comes in, we're feeding off of each other. Just imagine what it could be like if both of us were on the floor at the same time."

Goins used similar caution while agreeing.

"Definitely, I think that would give us a good look," he said. "Obviously, I'm no coach or anything like that, but I think playing on the floor with him at the same time could open up a lot of things.

"Two point guards in the same offense can work out pretty good."

Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.