Feb. 10, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl has made beating in-state rival Vanderbilt a priority.
The Volunteers rubbed it in on Saturday.
"It's great to beat Vanderbilt because they're a rival. That's why I've got the orange jacket on," Pearl said. "It's even better when they're ranked."
Vanderbilt (16-8, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) won the teams' first meeting on a last-second basket and hoped to sweep the Vols this season.
But Pearl got out the blinding orange blazer he wears only for rivals Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and Tennessee (17-8, 5-5) dominated on its homecourt from start to finish. Vanderbilt was held to a season-low in points.
The Vols jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the opening minutes, a spurt that included back-to-back 3s by Chism.
Vanderbilt first scored on Shan Foster's three-point play with 15:39 remaining in the half. Tennessee led 42-21 at halftime, and the Vols were up by 30 midway through the second half.
"We kept on pushing and being aggressive on defense," Chism said.
Foster and Ross Neltner each had 15 points to lead Vanderbilt.
JaJuan Smith added 11 points for Tennessee.
The Commodores had won five of their last six games including victories over ranked teams Alabama, Kentucky and LSU.
Vanderbilt is trying to bolster its chances of getting a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003-04.
"We haven't had one like this all season long. We have a pretty competitive group, but we didn't play well enough to do the job today," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
Lofton, the SEC's leading scorer, was back for a second game after missing four because of a sprained right ankle. Tennessee went 1-3 without him, making their return to the NCAA tournament look shaky.
The Vols got some style points in their 13th straight win at home this season, mostly from Chism, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward. He was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, had a season-high 12 rebounds and threw down a 360-degree dunk in the second half.
"He made you go 'ooh and ah' tonight. If you didn't go 'ooh' over that dunk after a tough catch and a tough play and go 'ah' when he knocked down a couple of 3s, that's the inside-outside that makes him potentially a special player," Pearl said.
Chism said he gained confidence after playing against LSU's big man, Glen Davis, in the Vols' 70-67 home win on Tuesday.
"Everybody came out playing good defense tonight. They hit big shots and made their run, but we kept it under control," Chism said. "Everybody came out with confidence."
Chism struggled early in the Vanderbilt game at Nashville last month and even had to leave the bench for a few minutes in the second half. Chism said his asthma got aggravated during the game. He finished with nine points in 17 minutes.
Vanderbilt had season lows in field goals (17) and percentage (29.8 percent). The Commodores committed 17 turnovers - 11 on Tennessee steals.
Vanderbilt's leading scorer, Derrick Byars, was held to eight points after coming in averaging 16.2 points.
"We knew they were going to come out and give us their best shot, but unfortunately we didn't counter that," Foster said. "They did a good job of getting us out of sync offensively."
Tennessee stretched its lead to as many as 18 early in the first half - at 22-4 on Lofton's 3 with 11:05 left.
The Commodores cut it to 12 with 8:41 to go after Byars scored twice during a fast-paced few minutes, but Jordan Howell hit a 3 and JaJuan Smith banked in a jumper to put Tennessee up 31-14. Vanderbilt couldn't get any closer.
The Commodores shot 23 percent (7-of-30) from the field and had 10 turnovers in the first half.
Tennessee extended its lead after halftime to 23, and then Vanderbilt scored six straight points - a 3 by Byars and three free throws. During the spurt, Chism was called for a technical while he wrestled with Neltner for a loose ball.
Dan Cage missed the second technical free throw for Vanderbilt, and Tennessee got the ball back and Ramar Smith threw a pass behind his back to Chism for the dunk.