#17 Pitt Survives Vols, 61-56

Dec. 3, 2011

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Next: Dec. 6 vs. VMI
Next: Dec. 10 vs. Austin Peay
Thompson-Boling Arena   //   Knoxville   //   Att: 17,249
23-51 (.451)
27-64 (.422)
4-14 (.286)
4-12 (.333)
6-8 (.750)
3-9 (.333)
C. Tatum 13
N. Robinson 16
A. Gibbs 16
K. Hall 12
N. Robinson 12
T. Golden 6
A. Gibbs 6
C. Tatum 2
A. Gibbs 3
K. Hall 2
C. Tatum 2
K. Birch 2
» Kenny Hall
Junior // Forward // Stone Mountain, Ga.

Hall set a career-high 12 with rebounds against Pitt, surpassing his previous best of 11 against South Carolina in 2010.


The Vols had two players with double-figure rebounds for the first time this season and first since Nov. 24, 2010 vs. VCU.


Trae Golden (12 points) has scored in double-figures in all seven games this season.


Cameron Tatum notched a career-high 10 rebounds, surpassing his former high of eight.


Kenny Hall had a career-high 12 rebounds, surpassing his former high of 11.


The Vols had 36 of their 56 points in the paint against Pitt.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson each scored 16 points as No. 17 Pittsburgh edged upset-minded Tennessee 61-56 Saturday night at Thompson-Boling Arena in the Big East/SEC Challenge.

The Panthers (7-1) appeared to be headed to a smooth victory after pulling away from the Vols (3-4) late in the game, but Tennessee battled back.

With Pitt leading by seven, Gibbs was called for a flagrant foul and Trae Golden made one free throw. Tennessee then got a layup from Cameron Tatum to cut it to 58-53 with 48 seconds remaining.

Tennessee began fouling, and the Panthers were unable to convert on the free throw line. A miss from the charity stripe gave UT the ball, and Golden drained a 3-pointer to make it 58-56 with 11.6 second on the clock.

Jeronne Maymon then fouled Pitt's Dante Taylor, but Taylor missed his free throw.

Golden sprinted down the court for the Vols, but Pitt's Gibbs swarmed to the ball and tied him up for a jump ball. The alternate possession gave Pitt the ball with 3.6 seconds left.

"We run a flat series where he's attacking off the dribble, which is great for us," UT head coach Cuonzo Martin said of Golden's tie-up. "Unfortunately, he got the jump ball call. We wanted him to really attack off the bounce, and Ashton Gibbs did a good job of getting his hands on the ball."

Pitt's John Johnson made a driving layup and was fouled. He converted to make it 61-56, and the Vols' final heave at the buzzer was off and wouldn't have changed the outcome anyway.

Tatum led Tennessee with his first career double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Maymon and Golden added 12 points apiece for the Vols.

Tennessee never got the outside shot going, shooting just 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. However, the Vols did outscore the Panthers 36-28 in the paint. Kenny Hall got all of his 8 points in the paint, some thanks to his team-high 12 rebounds. Still, the Panthers won the rebound battle 38-32.

"I think the key to the game was offensive rebounds," Martin said. "Pitt did good job attacking the glass. We have got to do a better job in that area. They had 18 second-chance points off of offensive rebounds."

Pitt's Robinson snagged 12 rebounds to complete his double-double performance, nine of them coming on the offensive glass.

"Ever since we came in together (at Pittsburgh), he always did a real good job at rebounding," said UT's Dwight Miller, who played at Pitt before transferring to Tennessee. "He does a really good job of reading it after it leaves the shooter's hands and judging trajectory and knowing where the ball's going to end up. I think that's why he's always been so successful on the offensive glass."

The Vols traded baskets with the Panthers for most of the game, with UT leading 26-20 with 4:22 remaining in the first half behind a Tatum 3-pointer. But Pitt didn't allow the Vols to score again until the half, responding with a 7-0 run to lead 27-26 at the break.

The teams traded jabs again in the second half until Gibbs took over late. With the Panthers leading 44-43, Gibbs got a basket for Pitt and Maymon responded with one for the Vols. Then Gibbs ripped off seven consecutive points of his own to give Pitt a 53-45with 5:01 remaining.

"We tried to keep him on one side, and once he got in the middle there wasn't much of a hedge guy there on the screens," Tatum said. "Some of the offensive rebounds they got, they kicked it back out to him and he was wide open."

The Vols now get a week-long break from action during the university's final exam period. Next they'll face Austin Peay Saturday at noon ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The break is a relief from a grueling stretch in which Tennessee faced off against No. 6 Duke and No. 8 Memphis in Maui before traveling to Michigan to face Oakland and returning home to host No. 17 Pitt.

"I thought it was great for our guys to go against some of the best teams in the country," Martin said. "In the first seven games to play teams of this caliber, obviously we want to win these ballgames, but it's good for our guys because you have to learn how to move forward."

The Vols lost all their games to ranked opponents, but none by more than 10 points. Still, Tatum said keeping things close doesn't leave a satisfying taste.

"These are the types of games we've got to finish in order to become a good team and win big ballgames," Tatum said. "That's what good teams do; they win the tight ballgames. We've got to find a way to start closing out. We're right with teams every step of the way - or at least 39 minutes. We just have to start figuring out how to get to 40 minutes.

"You don't get satisfied until you get a win. Nobody remembers, good job for coming close. We've got to start putting Ws on the board and do a better job at closing out games."





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