Baby grows up, UT mops up

Tennessee's basketball team may need to find a new nickname for its "Big Baby."

Brian Williams matured a lot in Tuesday night's 91-64 drubbing of UT-Martin, producing a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds in 18 scintillating minutes. The 6-10, 270-pound sophomore hit 8 of 10 shots from the field, including 1 of 1 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the foul line.

Speaking on the post-game show, Williams noted that head coach Bruce Pearl "chewed me up in practice this week, saying I was soft."

Pearl recalled the incident a bit differently.

"Soft might not be the way you'd put it," the Vol coach quipped. "I dog-cussed him. Brian handled it really well. I really got after him a couple of times.

"Brian's got good hands, he's got good timing, he's a good passer in there. He is a bit of a finesse player. He needs to be more of a power player. He needs to play more angry. But I don't think he played better because I challenged him. Brian played better because he IS better."

Williams combined with 6-9 Wayne Chism and 6-7 Tyler Smith to dominate things on inside. Chism chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Smith added 19 points. Wings J.P. Prince and Cameron Tatum added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The victory was Tennessee's 34th in succession at home, establishing a new program record.

The Vols dominated statistically, outshooting the Skyhawks 48 to 29 percent from the floor and outrebounding the visitors 58-41. Tennessee's only glaring weakness was 3-point shooting. It made just 2 of 17 shots (11 percent) from beyond the arc.

Even misfiring from long range, Tennessee raced to a 14-2 lead that swelled to 27-6 with 13:43 left to intermission. The Vols widened the gap to 57-31 by the break, somehow limiting Martin superstar Lester Hudson to 2 first-half points. Hudson finished with a team-high 20 but went just 7 of 22 from the floor, including 3 of 14 from 3-point range.

Hudson wasn't the only Skyhawk guard to struggle with Tennessee's long-armed perimeter defenders. Marquis Weddle (5 of 16) and M.J. Brown (2 of 10) combined with Hudson to go 14 of 48 from the field. Still, Pearl wasn't satisfied.

"We've got decent length and we got our hands on a few balls," he said. "But they got too many good looks for my liking. In pressure, we didn't make enough plays. We forced just three turnovers in the second half."

Although Tennessee played well at times, the Vols weren't nearly as impressive as they were in Saturday night's season-opening 114-75 blowout of Chattanooga. Pearl conceded as much.

"We had a lot of spurts," he said. "There were times when we looked like a terrific basketball team. Maybe it was the score or maybe we just got too relaxed and too comfortable, but we did not play as well as we did Saturday night."

Tennessee returns to action Friday night, playing Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro.

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