C. J. Watson drives against South Alabama's Carlos Smith. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Jan. 4, 2006
The Volunteers (9-1) have won three in a row since their only loss of the season at Oklahoma State and had their final tune-up before Southeastern Conference play begins Sunday at South Carolina.
The Jaguars (9-3), who got their first victory over a ranked team since 1997 by beating then-No. 25 Houston earlier this month, were outmatched from the beginning.
Tennessee shot a season-high 56.5 percent from the floor (35-of-62) and had 10 steals.
Mario Jointer had 17 points and Michael Phillips scored all 16 of his points in the second half for South Alabama. Leandro Buboltz added 10 points.
Tennessee's lead stretched to 20 less than two minutes into the second half as the Vols outscored South Alabama 9-0 after halftime.
Wingate scored seven of the points, the last pair on a one-handed dunk that put Tennessee up 57-33 with 16:48 remaining.
South Alabama made a last effort late, cutting the lead to 14 on Chey Christie's basket with 4:40 to go. Smith hit a 3, and Vols fans began leaving the arena in large numbers knowing the game was secure.
The Jaguars led once in the game at 7-6, and Tennessee took off from there and built a 15-point lead midway through the first half. The Vols got a pair of free throws off a technical called on South Alabama coach John Pelphrey, the former Kentucky star.
Watson had five assists and became the fourth Tennessee player to reach 500 for his career. He has 503.