Chism charge leads UT

A trio of outstanding senior guards gave No. 23 Marquette the backcourt edge Tuesday night vs. No. 19 Tennessee, so the Vols needed to exploit their advantage inside.

Thanks to Wayne Chism, they did.

Chism scored a career-high 26 points – 21 in the second half – to spark a come-from-behind 80-68 Vol victory in the SEC/Big East Invitational at the Sommet Center in Nashville. The junior post hit 8 of 11 field-goal tries, 8 of 11 foul shots and speared 11 rebounds.

"I try not to ask players to do what they're not capable of doing," UT coach Bruce Pearl said on the post-game show. "I ask a lot of Wayne because Wayne is capable of making plays. He's a big guy who is capable of making plays on the perimeter."

The sight of a 6-9, 240-pounder launching 3-pointers seems incongruous but Chism bagged a couple of clutch ones against Marquette, whose 1-3-1 zone dared Tennessee to shoot from outside.

"I know every time he shot (from outside) tonight, the crowd went 'Awwwww ... yes!'" Pearl said. "We've got to get Wayne going from out there because it's a dimension that separates us, and I'm going to keep calling his number."

Chism also spearheaded UT's defensive effort Tuesday night.

"Not only did Wayne Chism have the (offensive) night he had," Pearl said. "He was also our best defensive player."

With Marquette leading 48-46, Chism scored 15 points in a 19-10 spurt that put Tennessee on top 65-58 with 5:58 to play. There were some anxious moments remaining for the Vols, however.

The Big Orange led 70-62 when a Jimmy Butler free throw, two Wesley Matthews free throws and a Lazar Hayward 3 narrowed the gap to 70-68 with 2:21 remaining.

On Wayne Chism's biggest night, it was unlikely hero Josh Tabb who hit the game's biggest shot. The Vol guard drained a 3 from the right corner to bump the lead to 73-68 and stop Marquette's momentum with 2:07 left.

Tennessee hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final two minutes to pull away. The Vols didn't hold a double-digit lead until 29.9 seconds remained (78-68) and the final score was their biggest bulge of the night.

Tyler Smith chipped in 14 points for the Vols, now 7-2. Wesley Matthews scored 30 points (hitting 15 of 18 shots from the foul line) for Marquette, now 8-2.

Tennessee shot 49 percent from the field, while limiting Marquette to 37 percent. The Vols were just 6 of 22 from 3-point range but hit 26 of 36 foul shots, including 20 of 25 in the second half.

Although Matthews had a big night for Marquette, his fellow guards did not. Dominic James made just 3 of 12 shots, while Jerel McNeal was 5 of 15.

Noting that Marquette made just 10 two-point baskets, Pearl said that one of the big keys was "the way we rallied to the ball, built a wall and made Marquette beat us from 3, not from 2."

Another key for Tennessee was the play of its bench. Vol reserves outscored their Marquette counterparts 23-3.

The Vols return to action Saturday, hosting Belmont at 3 in Thompson-Boling Arena.

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