by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
Non-conference teams don’t beat Pittsburgh in its own city. It doesn’t matter if its on campus or at the brand new Consol Energy Center, the Panthers are as tough to beat at home as any team in the country.
Tennessee, though, must not have gotten the memo, as the Volunteers became the first non-conference team since 2005 to beat the Panthers in Pittsburgh. Now with wins over Pittsburgh and Villanova this season, the Volunteers are looking like one of the country’s best teams.
Behind its terrific defense, Tennessee dominated Pittsburgh, leading by as many as 21 points before ultimately winning by seven. However, it wasn’t just the team’s defensive effort that sparked this victory. Junior guard Scotty Hopson continued his stellar season, scoring a career-high 27 points. His team’s 83 points were the most scored in regulation against the Panthers since Wisconsin put up 89 back in December of 2006.
Things seem to be coming together nicely for a Volunteer team that was a question mark due to the violations made by its head coach Bruce Pearl in the offseason.
From The Tennessean:
“I think it’s big step for our team,” Melvin Goins said. “It shows we can play in a hostile environment against a big, tough team.”
“We showed we can guard,” Cameron Tatum said. “If we continue to do that we can play with anybody in the country. It’s not all about offense that wins championships.”
Tennessee has as impressive a collection of wins as any team in the country right now and should leap up the polls into the top-5. There are few tougher enviornments than playing in Pittsburgh, meaning that regardless of opponent, the Volunteers will be tough to bring down for the rest of the season.