A class act

Great basketball teams tend to be unselfish basketball teams. Tennessee is not yet a great team but the Vols certainly qualify as unselfish. One player in particular filled the bill in Wednesday night's 76-58 upset of No. 16 Memphis.

After starting the first eight games at center, Duke Crews approached head coach Bruce Pearl early Wednesday with an unusual request: He wanted fellow freshman Wayne Chism to start in his place against the Tigers.

The Memphis game was special for Chism for two reasons: One, he grew up in nearby Bolivar. Two, high school teammate Willie Kemp is the Tigers' starting point guard.

"How about Duke Crews coming to me at shoot-around and telling me that, if it's OK with me, it's OK with him that Wayne Chism starts?" Pearl asked. "He knew it would mean a lot to him. That's when you get a team coming together … with that kind of unselfishness."

Asked about the selfless gesture after the game, Crews insisted he had done nothing special. He was simply helping a teammate.

"Wayne's from the Memphis area. He and Willie Kemp played on the same high school team, and he had a whole lot of his family members here," Crews noted. "I just gave him the opportunity (to start). He would do the same thing for me if I was going back to my area (Hampton, Va.) to play.

"It really wasn't a big deal. We still split our minutes and we were productive."

Crews proved even more productive coming off the bench than he had been as a starter. He finished with 9 points and team highs for rebounds (10) and blocks (3) in 21 impressive minutes. Chism, apparently pressing a bit in his first career start, sank just 1 of 6 from the floor but grabbed 5 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Crews' request that Chism start Wednesday night didn't surprise Pearl but it shocked Vol senior Dane Bradshaw.

"That was huge," he said. "But, to be honest, I was surprised by that because Duke is such a competitor I know he wants to start in a nationally televised game…. For him to give that up to his buddy Wayne in front of his family and friends is great."

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