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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Tennessee 77, VCU 72

By Kieran Darcy



Recap | Box score

NEW YORK -- A quick postgame take on No. 24 Tennessee's 77-72 victory over Virginia Commonwealth at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night:

WHAT IT MEANS: Tennessee ups its record to 4-0 on the season, and advances to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game. The Volunteers fought off a feisty VCU team, despite all the controversy surrounding head coach Bruce Pearl -- this was their first game since Pearl was handed an eight-game conference-play suspension by the SEC. VCU drops to 3-1 on the season, and will surely feel like they squandered a golden opportunity to pick up a win that would have been significant come Selection Sunday.

HARD NUMBERS: Most telling stat of the game? VCU shot 21-for-68 from the field -- that's just 30.9 percent. The Rams were able to hang around because they out-shot the Vols from the 3-point line and the foul line. But they needed to shoot better overall to beat a team like Tennessee. Pearl's Tennessee teams are now 58-4 when they hold the opponent to 40 percent shooting or worse. The Vols' defense was good, but not great -- VCU had plenty of open looks.

HOME BOY: Tennesse freshman Tobias Harris -- a McDonald's All-American from Dix Hills on Long Island -- came in leading Tennessee in scoring (16.3 ppg), and had 10 early points, making his first five shots from the field. But he was quiet after that, missing his final nine shots from the field, and finishing with 15. Junior swingman Scotty Hopson led Tennessee with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

SMALL POTATOES: VCU's 5-foot-10 point guard, Joey Rodriguez, came in averaging 18.3 points per game, and leading the nation with 10.3 assists per game. But he had a very rough night, with just five points and four assists, shooting 1-for-10 from the field before fouling out. Senior guard Brandon Rozzell single-handedly kept VCU in the game in the second half, coming off the bench to score 23 points, including hitting 6-of-11 from downtown.

WHAT'S NEXT: Tennessee will play the winner of the Villanova-UCLA game in the NIT championship game, Friday night at approximately 5 p.m. VCU will play the loser of that game in the third-place contest, tipping off at 2:30 p.m.