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January 26, 2005

Smith and Wright battle again

Last night's 67-62 win by Brandan Wright's Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy squad over Tyler Smith's Giles Co. (Tenn.) High School team was the largest margin of victory in the four games in the past two years between two of Tennessee's better teams. Both the 6-foot-9, 201-pound Wright and the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Smith played well in a game where they were matched up against each other for the entirety of the game.

Smith, the No. 63 ranked player in the Rivals150 and a Tennessee signee, was the more active player in the first half of a game played at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym before approximately 6,000 fans. With the score tied 33-33 at halftime, Smith had14 points on 5 of 13 shooting from the field. He also had 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot in the first half.

In the first half of play, Wright, the No. 2 ranked player in the class of 2006, had only 6 points on 3 of 4 shooting. He also had 2 blocks but a disappointing zero rebounds.

Wright, however, came out much more aggressively in the second half, posting up Smith on the first two possessions and then scoring on dunks. Taking only 4 shots in the second half as well, Wright made 3 field goals and made all 6 of his free throws in the second half. He also grabbed 5 rebounds, 3 of which came off his 3 blocks of the half.

For the game Wright scored 18 points on 8 field goal attempts and had 5 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Smith shot 3 of 7 from the field in the second half to finish the game with 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot.

With North Carolina's Roy Williams and coaches from Louisville in the stands watching Wright, Wright displayed why he is one of the most coveted recruits in the country. He effortlessly catches errant entry passes with one hand, either with his dominant left hand or his right hand. He blocks shots with either hand and typically corals the blocks himself to ignite the fast break. On one play, he drove the middle with his right hand and made a pull-up jumper from 12-feet with Smith in his face. A future combo forward, Wright also handle the ball well on the perimeter against pressure.

With a naturally laid back personality, Wright will take his game to an even higher level once he gains more strength and plays with more physical aggression. With a smooth stroke out to 17-feet, Wright is also working to extend his shooting range.

Tennessee fans should be excited about the arrival of Tyler Smith in Knoxville. A fierce competitor and superb athlete, Smith will bring a competitive energy to the Tennessee program. Smith aggressively attacks the basket, going either left or right, has a strong spin move in the lane and then can finish with either hand around the basket. Besides his 2 three-pointer out of 7 attempts on the night, all of his other points came from 3 out of 4 free throws and scores at the basket. Smith's long range shot is looking better, but he is still primarily a slasher. When he could not get a shot off on his drives, Smith did a good job of finding shooters on the perimeter. Smith will also be an excellent rebounder from the small forward position in college.

The primary area where Smith could improve his game is the development of a pull-up jumper in the midrange area. With his athleticism, Smith could practically get an open look off the bounce at will if he learns to pull up a couple dribbles earlier and knock down the jumper. As of now, Smith is dead set on the rim once he puts the ball on the floor.

In the previous game this year between Brentwood Academy and Giles Co., Brentwood Academy won by 1 point on a free throw by Wright with 1.9 seconds on the clock. Wright finished with 33 points, while Smith scored 31.


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