NEW YORK — All the talk around Tennessee this young season has been about coach Bruce Pearl and his upcoming suspension for violating NCAA rules and misleading investigators.
After the 24th-ranked Volunteers' 78-68 victory over No. 7 Villanova in Friday's final of the NIT Season Tip-Off, it might be time to start talking about the team.
"It would be good for people to write about these kids and how we play," said Pearl, suspended for his team's first eight SEC games. "We're in the season right now."
Scotty Hopson scored 18 for Tennessee (5-0), and senior point guard Melvin Goins was key late for the Volunteers, scoring seven of his nine points and getting two big steals in the final 2:17.
Goins and Hopson did a good defensive job on Villanova's three guards, considered one of the nation's top backcourts.
Corey Fisher had three points on 1 of 10 shooting from the field for the Wildcats (5-1). Maalik Wayns had 11 points on 3 for 11 shooting, and Corey Stokes had 11 on 3-for-9.
In an 82-70 semifinal win over UCLA, Fisher had a career-high 26 points, Wayns had 19 and Stokes 16.
NO. 3 OHIO ST. 66, MIAMI (OHIO) 45: Fifth-year senior David Lighty scored 19 of his 21 in the second half of his 100th victory with the host Buckeyes (5-0), who play Tuesday at Florida State.
NO. 4 KANSAS ST. 84, TEXAS SO. 60: Jacob Pullen scored 16 for the host Wildcats (5-1), who led by 39 before Texas Southern chipped away against KSU's reserves.
NO. 6 KANSAS 98, OHIO 41: Marcus Morris scored 26 to lead the Jayhawks (4-0) in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational. Kansas faces Arizona tonight.
NO. 9 SYRACUSE 53, MICH. 50: Kris Joseph scored 22 and Scoop Jardine hit the go-ahead 3-pointer late for the Orange (5-0), which held on to reach the final of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, N.J. Syracuse faces Georgia Tech tonight.
NO. 10 PURDUE 79, SO. ILLINOIS 60: E'Twaun Moore scored 31 for the Boilermakers (5-0) in the semifinals of the Chicago Invitational Challenge in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Purdue faces Richmond in today's final.
NO. 18 SAN DIEGO ST. 88, SAN DIEGO CHR. 69: Kawhi Leonard and Chase Tapley scored 14 apiece for the Aztecs (6-0) in their home opener against San Diego Christian, an NAIA school from nearby El Cajon.
NO. 21 TEMPLE 65, GEORGIA 58: Scootie Randall had 18 points and Rahlir Jefferson converted a three-point play with 41.4 seconds left for the Owls (3-1), who face Texas A&M in a consolation game at the Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista.
NOTRE DAME 57, CAL 44: The Irish (6-0) led 21-5 after a sloppy first half for both teams and held on to reach the Old Spice Classic final. "I've never had 21 points at halftime and been up 16," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, chuckling. The Irish face Wisconsin in Sunday's final.
TAMPA 63, QUEENS (N.C.) 59: Callum Townsend hit 3s on back-to-back possessions to put the Spartans (5-0) ahead to stay late in the game at the EC Thanksgiving Classic in St. Petersburg. UT faces Puerto Rico-Bayamon today.
ECKERD 88, P.R.-BAYAMON 53: Wayne Sears and Lance Kearse scored 12 each as the host Tritons (5-1) opened with a 17-3 run to win their fourth in a row at the EC Thanksgiving Classic. Eckerd faces Queens (N.C.) today to cap the two-day event.