When he re-entered the game with the Vols trailing 14-9, however, the 6-9, 240-pound Bolivar product was a different player. He scored on a put-back and a tip-in within a matter of seconds, then played superior post defense in helping ignite a 16-2 run that put the Vols on top for good. Chism finished the night with 11 points, 6 rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot as No. 7 Tennessee prevailed 80-63.
"The first run Wayne got himself really winded and fatigued," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "He had a really rough go of it the first few minutes of the game. To his credit – showing growth emotionally – he hung in there and came out in the second rotation and really played better."
Chism echoed those sentiments, noting: "I started out slow, but I picked it up and I played good at the end."
The talented young big man admitted that he was running on fumes just a few minutes into the game, mostly because he was constantly struggling to get in proper defensive position.
"I told Coach it was my fault to get myself like that," he said. "It was a lack of focus. I wasn't focusing on seeing where the ball was, and I was in no-help position, so I got beat."
Chism, who missed Tennessee's exhibition opener due to a concussion, said the injury had no bearing on his slow start Friday night.
"I'm good," he said. "The concussion is over with, so I've just got to come out and play ball. I can't think about the concussion all the time."
Chism played 22 minutes at the post position in the opener, with 6-10, 270-pound freshman Brian Williams getting the other 18 minutes. Although the rookie is very raw, they make for a talented tandem.
"He's coming along pretty fast," Chism said of his first-year understudy. "He's catching on quick. I can't take nothing away from him. He's a good player."