Feb. 6, 2010
BY JOSH PATE, UTSports.com
The chant was on cue. Students had been vocal all evening Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, but this chant was among the most timely.
"You can't stop him," they cried in unison just after Tennessee's Wayne Chism sank a reverse layup from under the basket and got the foul. He made his free throw.
The backboard was just about all that could slow down Chism. He scored a career-high 30 points as the No. 14 Vols (18-4, 6-2 SEC) ran away from South Carolina (13-9, 4-4 SEC) for a 79-53 victory in front of another 21,000-plus crowd at home. And they were rocking when Chism got the ball.
Less than a minute after Chism's old fashioned three-point play, Melvin Goins hit him with the ball on the wing and Chism drained one of his trademarked rainbow 3-pointers to put the Vols up 63-37 with 9:18 left to play in the game.
"When Wayne is able to do things like that - inside and out, defend like he did and lead the team -- he's a very difficult matchup," said UT head coach Bruce Pearl. "South Carolina did not have an answer for him. Our guys did a great job of getting him the ball. We took advantage of Wayne, and when we do that we are a great team."
Chism's mini-explosion came during a stretch when the Gamecocks, fresh off consecutive victories against Kentucky and Georgia, went four minutes without making a field goal midway through the second half.
In fact, the big man's key was the second half, when he scored 19 of his 30.
"Chism outplayed us," South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn said. "He had not finished like that all year long. He's a terrific player. Tonight I thought he did a great job of finishing over the top of our guys. He outplayed our guys, it is really simple."
Chism said the fact that UT was coming off a late Thursday night game didn't affect his preparation.
"I didn't feel pressure," Chism said. "I took a little ice bath and a heat treatment before to relax the legs and then I went home and took a nice nap. I was very comfortable, especially the way our point guards pushed the ball up the floor. I stayed in the game and stayed inside in the post."
Chism grabbed just four rebounds on the night, a change from normal SEC play. He entered the matchup with the Gamecocks averaging a double-double in conference games with 14.1 points and 10.1 boards.
"Wayne has showed these last couple of games that he is one of the great big men around the basket," Steven Pearl said. "If he gets the ball inside, he's going to score. Or he's going to get an offensive rebound and get a putback. He shoots a great percentage and can always finish. Wayne's our leader."
That's true on the floor and emotionally. On the three-point play when Chism's acrobatic shot dropped through the net, he grinned big and pounded his chest. He wasn't the only one excited.
"Every time he does something crazy I'm on the bench going crazy right along with him like I was on the floor or something," said freshmen Kenny Hall. "I enjoy watching him play. That just gives me my energy to go in there and try to do the same thing."
Bruce Pearl is hoping that type of influence lingers with the Tennessee team.
"Wayne is a special player," Pearl said. "He's one of the best players in our league and that's saying a lot."