The College Basketball Notebook

November 27, 2010 8:14 AM

Tennessee Wins NIT Tip-Off

ScottyHopson.jpgThe Tennessee basketball program has been surrounded by controversy, with Bruce Pearl suspended for the first part of the SEC schedule in January. But the last two nights in New York they put it all behind them and won the NIT Tip-Off Championship, wrapping it up on Friday with a 78-68 win over #7 Villanova. The Vols did it by playing sound defense, holding both 'Nova and Virginia Commonwealth in Wednesday's semis to under 35 percent shooting from the floor and getting strong play from guard Scotty Hopson who popped in 18 each game. In the championship game the defense was particularly stellar on Villanova's Corey Fisher who was held to 1-for-10 from the floor.

Villanova reached the final with an 82-70 win over UCLA, and in that game Fisher was much sharper, scoring 26 points. He and Corey Stokes promise to make a good backcourt tandem all year and 'Nova's ultimate success will be driven by how they develop inside. In that regard, Jay Wright has to be pleased from what he saw in New York. Mouphtaou Yarou hit the glass against the Bruins for 16 rebounds and if he can join with Antonio Pena as an effective post player it will take care of what was a weak point for the 'Cats in last year's last-season fade. UCLA lost twice in New York, also dropping an 89-85 decision to Virginia Commonwealth. Clearly the defense has to be Priority Uno for Ben Howland right now. If the Bruins can tighten it up, they will have help on the glass. Reeves Nelson did a good job in this tournament, grabbing 23 rebounds over the two games and Tyler Honeycutt offers promise as well.


Earlier in the week Missouri went down to Mexico and brought home a victory in the Cancun Challenge, beating Wyoming and LaSalle. The 12th-ranked Tigers buried 10 treys and outrebounded Wyoming 43-32 in winning the first game. Then they had a less-than-stellar 83-71 win over LaSalle, allowing the Explorers to shoot 52 percent from the floor. But they took care of the ball, only committing five turnovers and that cleared the way for a win. Providence won the third-place game over Wyoming thanks to 29 points from Vincent Council.

Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football , game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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