Dec. 31, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)-- Wayne Chism had 15 points and nine rebounds, and 14th-ranked Tennessee dominated inside for a 66-59 victory over Memphis on Thursday.
Tennessee defense, meanwhile, held the Tigers to 31.4 percent shooting (16 of 51), although the Vols shot only 35.8 (19 of 53).
Doneal Mack led Memphis (9-3) with 15 points before fouling out with 3:32 left. Elliot Williams, the Tigers' leading scorer at 20.7 points a game, had 13 points, despite missing his first six shots. Wesley Witherspoon added 11 points.
Memphis pulled within four points on two occasions in the final 1:23, but the Vols, who shoot 67.6 percent from the line for the season, hit 11 of their 14 free throws down the stretch.
The intensity in the early going was indicative of the in-state rivalry. Both defenses were aggressive, overplaying passing lanes and defenders were up in opponents' faces. Tennessee was pushing the Tiger offense out from the basket. Players were diving over press row after loose balls.
The result: The first points came on a pair of free throws by Chism at 15:38.
At that point, Memphis had missed its first four shots before Mack connected on a 3-pointer on the Tigers' next possession.
The teams exchanged leads before Tennessee extend its margin to 28-21 with 3:31 left in the half on a dunk by Scotty Hopson after Memphis' seventh turnover of the half.
Hopson, the Vols leading scorer at 13.7 points a game, scored eight, going 3 of 11 from the field.
Chism's 12-footer as the horn sounded sent the Volunteers to the locker room with a 31-24 lead, matching their largest margin of the half.
Chism connected on all three of his shots from the field and five free throws for 11 points in the half.
Mack had 10 points for Memphis, connecting on 3 of 5 from outside the arc.
The Vols pounded the ball inside after the half, getting Smith and Chism involved. Meanwhile, Prince was drawing fouls, and the combination allowed Tennessee to extend its advantage to double digits.
It wasn't until Memphis decided to play zone that Tennessee got out of sync. The Vols missed their next nine shots and committed five turnovers.
Memphis chipped into the Tennessee lead while playing zone, but not enough to threaten. By the time Hopson hit a 3-pointer with 9:05 left--ending a 7-minute stretch without a field goal for Tennessee--and a drive by Goins, the Vols had reclaimed their double-digit lead.
Memphis would make one more push, getting to 53-48, and eventually cutting it to four points. But Tennessee had built enough of a cushion to hold on for the win.