Nov. 16, 2010
Scotty Hopson scored 18 points and Tennessee (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) hung on to beat Belmont 85-76 in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Tuesday night.
Tennessee (2-0) held a 71-54 lead with 7:01 to play, but Belmont's Drew Hanlen had three 3-pointers as part of a 22-6 run to cut that lead to a point. Mick Hedgepeth was fouled by John Fields while scrambling for a rebound and hit one free throw but missed a second that would have tied the game at 77 with 36.6 seconds left.
Cameron Tatum hit two foul shots for Tennessee after being fouled by Brandon Baker, and Ian Clark missed another chance to tie the game on a clean 3-point shot that bounced off the rim. The Vols hit their last eight free throws to preserve the win.
Tatum finished with 14 points, and Tobias Harris had 16. Clark led Belmont (0-1) with 18 points, Hanlen had 13 and Hedgepeth added 10.
The Vols advance to play Missouri State in the second round on Wednesday night for a chance to travel to New York City for the semifinals. The Bruins will play a consolation game against Arkansas State.
Both teams played physically in the paint, and the officials made them pay for their scrappy play. Belmont was called for 31 fouls, and Tennessee was charged with 28.
The Vols combined 32-of-40 shooting from the free throw line with 63.2 percent shooting from the field. They got two free throws from Skylar McBee, another set from Melvin Goins and a traditional three-point play from Tatum to go up 20-12 lead with 11:24 in the first half.
The Bruins have made a name for themselves in the past with their sharpshooting but got a few points in the lane. Scott Saunders stole the ball from Goins and dished it to Clark for a fastbreak layup with 1:17 in the first half that cut the Vols' lead to four points, the closest Belmont would get for the rest of the game.
Hopson took a hard fall with about a minute left before halftime and hobbled to the locker room favoring his right knee. It didn't seem to bother him after the break as he hit the Vols' first 3-pointer of the game followed by a dunk to put Tennessee up 48-35, and a dunk by Renaldo Woolridge pushed the margin to 17 with 7:01 left.
Belmont and Tennessee have played each other twice.
The Volunteers' 77-68 victory over the Bruins on Dec. 20, 2004, was a one-possession game inside two minutes before Tennessee pulled away. The Bruins pulled within a point of Tennessee in the Dec. 20, 2008, meeting, but Bobby Maze hit a free throw to seal the 79-77 win while Belmont's Alex Renfroe missed two free throws that could have sent it to overtime.