Vols + venom = vengeance

If Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings didn't already regret his recent reference to Vol counterpart Bruce Pearl as an "idiot ---hole," he surely does now. Tennessee's coach didn't hold a grudge but Tennessee's fans did.

A blood-thirsty crowd of 21,493 showed up Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena to boo Stallings, rattle the Commodores and spur the Vols to victory. The venomous throng succeeded on all counts, contributing significantly to an 84-57 Tennessee romp.

Wayne Chism had a hand in the win, too. The 6-9 freshman made two 3-pointers in a 13-0 run that opened the game, then added two highlight-reel dunks in a 12-1 second-half spurt that essentially ended it.

Chism finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds – both game highs – in 22 spectacular minutes. He hit 6 of 11 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and the two spectacular dunks.

"Wayne made you go ‘ooooh' and ‘ahhhhh' tonight," Pearl said. "That's the inside/outside (element) that makes him a special player."

Chris Lofton, in his second game back from a severe ankle sprain, added 16 points in 26 minutes. He looked much quicker than he did in a 21-minute, 8-point performance against LSU on Tuesday night.

"He's moving twice as good as he was against LSU," Pearl noted after watching his team improve to 17-8 overall and 5-5 in SEC play

JaJuan Smith, who had played horrendously in five previous meetings with Vandy, achieved some redemption. The 6-2 junior guard chipped in 11 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Josh Tabb, Ryan Childress and Jordan Howell and Ramar Smith added 9 points each. Dane Bradshaw contributed 7 assists.

Shan Foster and Ross Neltner produced 15 points each for Vanderbilt, which drops to 16-8 overall and 6-4 in SEC play. Star forward Derrick Byars was 3 of 13 from the field and scored just 8 points, half his average.

Tennessee won the backboard battle 25-12 in the second half (43-31 for the game) and shut down Vandy offensively. The visitors shot just 29.8 percent (17 of 57) from the field and 23.1 percent (6 of 26) from beyond the arc.

In spite of the 27-point margin, Pearl downplayed the revenge angle. Still, he seemed awfully pleased with the lopsided win.

Stallings' insulting comment about Pearl was made prior to a UT-Vandy women's game in Nashville and overheard by Lady Vol play-by-play man Mickey Dearstone. Shortly after the comment went public Pearl spoke with Stallings and came away "more than satisfied" with the explanation he got.

Tennessee's fans were not so forgiving, however, proving far more hostile than usual. This may have contributed as Vanderbilt made just 1 of its first 12 field-goal attempts. The Vols were 8 of 12 at this point and leading 22-4.

"Our pride was at stake," Howell said of the blazing start. "Vanderbilt beat us the first time (82-81 in Nashville on Jan. 10) and we wanted to be the best team in Tennessee. I think we had something to prove to everybody…. We jumped on ‘em from the get-go."

Tennessee's crowd jumped on Vandy from the start, too. The Vols noticed the fans' increased energy and fed off of it.

"They were in here early, making noise for us," JaJuan Smith said. "They knew how big this game was for us and how rough it was for us in Nashville, and they came back and made it real rough for Vandy here."

Down 42-21 at the break, Vanderbilt closed to 44-27 following a technical foul on Chism early in the second half. The Vol rookie vented his frustration by driving for a thunderous dunk. Then, after a three-point play by Tabb, Chism took a behind-the-back pass from Ramar Smith and made an acrobatic over-the-shoulder slam as he was tumbling out of bounds.

Following two free throws by Childress, Chism drained a 3-pointer from the right corner, capping the 12-1 spurt and giving Tennessee a 56-28 bulge with 12:30 to play. The lead peaked at 62-30 moments later.

"Wayne Chism's a bad boy," Pearl quipped, grinning smugly. "He's a bad boy."

Chism conceded that the technical "made me more mad," adding: "Sometimes when a freshman gets a tech (technical) they just lose it and don't play well. But everybody on the bench said, ‘Leave it alone. Turn to the next page.'"

Chism didn't just turn the page. He closed the book on Vandy.


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