Dec. 29, 2005

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  Coach Pearl | M. Wingate

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - C.J. Watson scored 18 points and made nine free throws down the stretch to help Tennessee beat Lipscomb 69-58 on Thursday night.

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled most of the game to pull away from the Bisons (5-5), who had the lead in the first half and trailed by only two early in the second.

Tennessee had trouble getting shots to fall and got few easy baskets. Lipscomb, picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference, stayed in the game with quickness and timely scoring.

Tennessee is the third Southeastern Conference opponent for Lipscomb this season. The Bisons lost 67-49 at Kentucky and 69-54 at Auburn.

This game was in doubt late. The Vols led by 10 with 6:36 left, but a basket by Cameron Robinson and a 3 by Brian Fisk cut it to 57-52.

Then Watson took over at the foul line, making 9 of 10 free throws in the final 3:48 as the Vols were able to pull away. Watson was 13-of-14 from the line for the game.

The loss overshadowed the performance by Lipscomb's Eddie Ard, who scored 24 points. He had 22 against Kentucky and was averaging a team-high 13.7 points a game. Fisk finished with 19 points.

Major Wingate scored 13 points and Stanley Asumnu added 11 for the Vols, who narrowly avoided their first home loss under new coach Bruce Pearl.

The Vols shot 21-of-55 from the floor. The Bisons had 21 turnovers.

Tennessee opened the second half with a 10-2 run to go ahead 37-28.

Lipscomb trimmed the lead to a basket twice afterward, but the Vols started to find easy baskets with a backward dunk by JaJuan Smith off a steal and Wingate's slam for a 48-40 lead with 12:08 to go.

The Vols led by nine early, but Lipscomb used a 13-3 run to go ahead. James Poindexter, Ard and Trey Williams hit consecutive 3-pointers to cap the rally. Tennessee responded with a 7-0 run to regain the lead, and Lipscomb fought back with its own 7-0 spurt.

The Bisons maintained the lead until the final 10 seconds before halftime when Watson's pair of free throws gave the lead back to the Vols.





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