March 10, 2005
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) - Scooter McFadgon scored 22 points and Tennessee gave embattled coach Buzz Peterson a much-needed victory, routing Arkansas 65-46 in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday night.
The Volunteers (14-16) seized control in the first half with a 21-2 run, finishing off the spurt with back-to-back 3-pointers by McFadgon. Tennessee led by 10 at halftime and was never threatened by the Razorbacks (18-12) after the break.
Peterson has come under fire for the Vols' mediocre play during his four-year tenure. Even with Tennessee's first SEC tournament victory since 2002, his record is just 61-58.
But at least the Vols get to play another day. They advanced to meet regular-season conference winner Kentucky in Friday's quarterfinals.
Arkansas, despite its impressive-sounding record, probably needed at least a couple of victories in the SEC tournament to warrant consideration by the NCAA selection committee. Because of a weak non-conference schedule, the Razorbacks were 94th in the RPI standings.
They didn't look even that good in this one. Arkansas was held to its fewest points of the season, shot just 39 percent and was outrebounded 42-23.
McFadgon made sure the Volunteers avenged a 70-68 loss at Arkansas less than two weeks ago. The senior guard scored 15 points in the first half, finished 4-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc and chipped in on the boards with seven rebounds.
McFadgon showed no signs of the bruised leg that kept him out of four games late in the season, including the trip to Fayetteville.
The Vols got off to a sluggish start. Arkansas dunked in three of its first four baskets, and Peterson angrily called a timeout after the Razorbacks beat Tennessee down the court again, leading to Ron Brewer's three-point play.
"C.J.!" Peterson screamed at junior guard C.J. Watson, loud enough for nearly everyone in the cavernous Georgia Dome to hear.
Not long after the coach's outburst, Tennessee became a totally different team. The Vols scored 11 straight points to erase a 13-8 deficit, and McFadgon closed the 21-2 outburst with 3-pointers from each corner.
Tennessee pushed the margin as high as 14 points before settling for a 34-24 lead at halftime.
Brandon Crump added 16 points for the Vols.
Arkansas barely got a couple of players into double figures. Ron Brewer and Darian Townes each scored 10 points to lead the Razorbacks.