Weary Vols win

It was a recipe for disaster.

Tennessee was playing its second game in three days, while Lipscomb was coming off a 10-day break.

Tennessee shot just 38 percent from the floor and missed 14 of its last 16 3-point attempts.

Tennessee lost the backboard battle by 10.

Leading scorer Chris Lofton managed just six points, 11 below his average.

Given all of the above, you wonder how in the world the Vols managed to beat the Bisons 69-58 Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The answer could be summed up in three letters … C.J. and D.

The C.J. was senior point guard C.J. Watson, who scored nine of Tennessee's final 12 points – all from the foul line – as the Vols pulled away from a scant 57-52 lead in the final four minutes.

The "D" was defense. Tennessee limited Lipscomb to 35.7 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers.

Watson hit just 2 of 8 from the floor but sank 13 of 14 free throws and led the Vols with 18 points. Major Wingate added 13 points, plus team highs in rebounds (7) and blocked shots (3). Stanley Asumnu chipped in 11 points as the Vols moved to 8-1.

Eddie Ard scored 24 and Brian Fisk 19 for the Bisons, who gave UT fits before falling to 5-5.

"Lipscomb had 10 days to get ready," Vol coach Bruce Pearl said. "They were extremely prepared."

Even so, Tennessee came out smoking. Three-point baskets by Lofton, Wingate and JaJuan Smith, plus a nifty transition bucket by Asumnu, staked the Vols to a quick 11-2 lead.

After sinking three of their first four 3-point attempts, however, the Vols would make just 2 of 16 thereafter.

"I think fatigue was a factor," Pearl noted. "When you make three 3s early and it looks like it's going to be a great night, then you only make one or two the rest of the game, I think that speaks to the fact we were pretty tired tonight."

Interestingly enough, the coach felt fatigue affected Tennessee's offense far more than its defense.

"I thought we had great effort guarding them," Pearl said. "But that takes something out of you, too. Their patience was a factor in our not being sharp on the offensive end. We rested on offense because we worked really hard defensively."

Lofton looked especially weary. He attempted just five shots all night – all but one from 3-point range – and did not attack the bucket as he had done in earlier games.

"They did a good job of switching out on him," Pearl said, "and I don't think he did a particularly good job of getting himself open, with or without the basketball."


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