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Vols Outlast UT-Martin, 68-62
Melvin Goins


Melvin Goins

Dec. 29, 2010

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Scotty Hopson scored 17 points as Tennessee survived another scare from a nonconference opponent to beat Tennessee-Martin 68-62 Wednesday night.

The Skyhawks, who are 1-8 on the road this season and lost at No. 2 Ohio State by 60 points on Monday, held a five-point lead with 14:23 to go against the Volunteers. Tennessee then used an 11-3 run to take a 50-47 lead with 9:39 left.

The teams traded the lead twice and tied four times before Tobias Harris, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, scored two layups and hit two pairs of free throws to help Tennessee (9-3) pull away.

Reuben Clayton came off the bench to score 21 points for UT Martin (4-10). Terence Smith scored 10, and Dane Smith grabbed 12 rebounds.

After winning their first seven games and climbing to as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25, the Vols fell out of the poll on Monday after a stretch of games that included three losses and a one-point win over Belmont. They hadn't been unranked since the end of the 2008-09 season.

The Skyhawks shot 51.7 percent before halftime and scored 10 unanswered points late in the first half to grab a 36-32 lead at the break after scoring just 40 points total against the Buckeyes. They also outrebounded the Vols 17-12 in the first half.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl went through 12 players on his bench trying to find the right combination of offense and defense. The Vols shot 44.4 percent in the first half but struggled against the zone defense as they'd done in losses to Charlotte and Southern California and a one-point win over Belmont.

Tennessee's pressure improved by the very end, and the Vols managed to limit UT Martin to 25.9 percent shooting in the second half and kept the Skyhawks from getting a field goal in the final 5:27 of the game.

The Vols have played and beaten every Division I team in Tennessee at least once during coach Bruce Pearl's six seasons except for Tennessee State, whom they have not faced. Under Pearl, Tennessee is 28-6 against in-state opponents, with the six losses coming only to Vanderbilt and Memphis.

They're also 46-1 all time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference and have won all seven meetings with those teams in Pearl's tenure.

 

 

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