UT might go big vs. Tigers

Tennessee put its two biggest players on the floor simultaneously for a small part of Wednesday's game with Auburn. The Vols may do a little more of that tonight against Memphis.

The top-ranked Tigers (26-0) are a towering bunch whose starting five measures 6-9, 6-9, 6-7, 6-6 and 6-3. They know how to exploit their size, too, outrebounding opponents by an average of 7.8 per game.

Conversely, the second-ranked Vols (24-2) are a vertically challenged team whose starting five goes 6-9, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. They basically break even on the boards, as a plus-0.4 rebound margin attests.

Memphis' front line is truly imposing, featuring 6-9, 265-pound Joey Dorsey (7.4 points, 10.5 rebounds per game), 6-9, 215-pound Robert Dozier (10.1 points, 7.2 rebounds) and 6-7, 200-pound Chris Douglas-Roberts (17.9 points, 4.5 rebounds).

Perhaps UT coach Bruce Pearl was thinking of a way to counteract the Tigers' size when he paired 6-10, 270-pound Brian Williams and 6-9, 242-pound Wayne Chism for a few minutes Wednesday night. When asked about it following the game, the Vol coach was careful not to give away any trade secrets.

"It's a big look," he said. "It does help us a little bit in rebounding."

Chism, a sophomore starter, is Tennessee's best post defender and an adequate inside scorer. Williams, a freshman reserve, plays like a typical rookie – good one minute, bad the next. He is making steady progress, however.

"The thing I like about Brian is, I like the way Brian moves his feet," Pearl said. "When Brian Williams is out there (on the perimeter) guarding guards, he's moving his feet. We talk about building a wall. He's half a wall to begin with, and he's a moving wall. He did a really, really nice job.

"Brian's mobile. He can move. Auburn creates mismatches. They tried to create mismatches with Brian, and he wasn't having it."

Asked how he felt about being paired with Williams, Chism grinned.

"I'm glad he's in there," he replied. "I need help sometimes, and I get it from Brian when he comes in the game."

Chism is coming off a solid performance vs. Auburn – 9 points, 4 rebounds, a team-high 5 assists and 2 blocked shots in just 21 minutes. Pearl called his number on UT's first two possessions, and Chism responded by scoring Tennessee's first two buckets. That seemed to get the big guy from Bolivar on the right track.

"If he gives you the ball the first trip down the floor and you score, that's a whole lot of confidence right there," Chism said. "You've put a whole lot of momentum on yourself, so the next trip down (the floor) you try to do it again."

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