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8 Tennessee
Mark Bechtel
November 20, 2000
How far the Vols go will again depend on whether their go-to guy goes south
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November 20, 2000

8 Tennessee

How far the Vols go will again depend on whether their go-to guy goes south

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STARTING LINEUP

POS.

PLAYER

HT.

CL.

KEY STAT

SF

Vincent Yarbrough#

6'7"

Jr.

14.8 ppg

PF

Ron Slay

6'8"

So.

9.7 ppg

C SG

Isiah Victor#

6'9"

Sr.

6.1 rpg

SG

Jon Higgins#

6'3"

So

2.2 apg

PG

Tony Harris#

6'0"

Sr.

14.6 ppg 1

1999-200 record: 26-7

Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 14

#Returning starter

Tony Harris is no John Philip Sousa. Sure, he has better moves than the composer did, but no one has ever called the Vols' point guard the March King. "He has been a great player for us from Day One to the time the postseason starts," says Tennessee coach Jerry Green. "But he has really struggled in the postseason."

In six career NCAA tournament games Harris has shot 22.4% from the floor, and in his last two SEC tournament games—both first-round losses—he has gone a combined 4 for 28 from the field. "I don't have the answer," says Harris, a two-time Wooden Award finalist. "I just haven't played up to par."

Harris has been the go-to guy for three years, but Tennessee's leading scorer last season was swingman Vincent Yarbrough, who was one of the nation's most sought-after high schoolers three years ago. Yarbrough nearly doubled his scoring output (from 7.6 points per game as a freshman to 14.8) after flattening out his rainbow J a bit and improving his ball handling. "He felt like he had something to prove his sophomore year, and he improved his game a lot, in every phase," says Harris. Now that the 6'7" Yarbrough has become more of a threat on the perimeter, Green has the luxury of sliding him to shooting guard on occasion and playing 6'8" Ron Slay at small forward, giving the Vols a big lineup in what is a relatively small SEC.

During the regular season Yarbrough was often able to pick up the slack when Harris had a bad day. But his 13 points weren't enough in the Vols' loss to North Carolina in the Sweet 16 last March, when Harris went without a field goal until just 13.6 seconds were left. By then Tennessee had squandered its three-point halftime lead, leaving Harris with a bitter but familiar taste in his mouth. "Knowing that your team can go farther than it did is frustrating," he says. "But I'm just thankful I've got another year to try to prove myself."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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