Another Vol reserve, Josh Bone, did a spectacular job on Vandy's John Jenkins, helping hold the SEC's leading scorer to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting that included 1 of 6 from 3. Tennessee also shut down All-SEC forward Jeffery Taylor, who went 4 for 10 from the field en route to 9 points.
Speaking on the post-game show, Vol coach Bruce Pearl praised his team for its "great defensive effort," later adding that Vandy is "maybe the best offensive team in our league, and the fact they shoot 30 percent (6 of 20) in the second half, 0 of 8 from 3 ... there's the identity that this team has to have if we're going to continue to win."
Tennessee's defense had to be exceptional because its offense was lame. The Vols also shot 38.6 percent from the field and a frigid 13.3 percent (2 of 15) from 3. They broke even at the foul line (14 of 21 vs. Vandy's 14 of 19), however, and won the backboards 37-31.
Scotty Hopson scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the final 5:26 to spark the Big Orange victory. Melvin Goins added 15 points. Hopson and Goins also posted three steals each. Freshman Tobias Harris notched his eighth double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Steven Pearl starred in 13 relief minutes, hitting 3 of 3 shots, grabbing 5 rebounds and contributing 3 steals.
"Our seniors stepped up in a big way," Bruce Pearl said, noting that Goins held Vandy point guard Brad Tinsley without a field goal and Bone forced Jenkins into a poor shooting night with five turnovers. Steven Pearl helped on both Taylor and Jenkins, while Williams limited Vandy's 6-foot-11 Festus Ezeli to four field-goal attempts.
Vanderbilt, which saw a five-game winning streak snapped, slips to 20-7 overall and 8-5 in league play. The Commodores led 31-27 at halftime and 48-41 when Brad Tinsley hit a pair of free throws with 9:12 to play. Tennessee dominated the rest of the game, however, to win going away.
Goins drove for a three-point play and Williams added a putback. Harris and Vandy's Taylor made a free throw each, then Hopson tied the score at 49 on a nifty drive with 5:26 remaining. Taylor scored on a drive for the Commodores with 5:00 left for a 51-49 lead but the Dores would not score again.
Hopson missed the front end of a one-and-one but then hit six free throws in a row as the Vols eased ahead 55-51 with 1:14 to play. Harris sank two free throws at 0:44.9 and another at 0:35.6 as the lead swelled to 58-51. Goins closed the scoring by tacking on two more foul shots with 21.4 seconds left.
With Hopson and Goins attacking the rim time after time, Tennessee offset its poor shooting from the field by knocking down 13 of 19 foul shots after intermission.
"In the second half we shot 10 for 25 and didn't make a 3-ball," Pearl said. "That's crazy. But we got to the foul line because we drove that ball to the basket, and that made all the difference in the world."