Rugged rebounders

Tennessee has gone from being a team that won in spite of its rebounding (2005-06 and 2006-07) to a team that wins because of its rebounding (2007-08) and 2008-09).

This year's edition of the Big Orange leads the SEC in rebounding offense (42.3 per game) and ranks third in rebound margin (plus-9.7 per game). Only LSU and Arkansas are doing better, and both have played ridiculously lame schedules thus far.

Individually, 6-9 Vol junior Wayne Chism ranks fifth (7.9 per game) and 6-10 sophomore Brian Williams sixth (7.6) among SEC rebounders. Williams' stat is especially impressive, since he averages just 16 minutes of playing time per game.

Chism ranks fourth among SEC players in defensive rebounds (5.8 per game) and Williams eighth in offensive rebounds (2.8 per game).

The Big Orange outrebounded Chattanooga 42-30 in Game 1, UT-Martin 58-41 in Game 2 and Middle Tennessee 38-23 in Game 3. After losing the backboard battle 40-39 at Siena, the Vols got the best of Georgetown (33-26) in Game 5 and even dominated Gonzaga (50-26) in an 83-74 Game 6 loss.

Tennessee outrebounded UNC Asheville 53-35 in Game 7 before losing the board battle (and the game 37-33) at Temple. The Vols bounced back against Marquette (33-31) in Game 9 and Belmont (44-37) in Game 10.

Tennessee was at it again in Monday night's 89-62 Game 11 defeat of Louisiana, beating the Ragin' Cajuns 47-35 on the boards as Chism grabbed 8 offensive, 7 defensive and 15 total rebounds. Still, head coach Bruce Pearl was less than pleased with the game's backboard breakdown.

"We won the battle of the boards but to give up 17 offensive rebounds is not good," he said. "This could be a dominating rebounding team but guys were leaving (prematurely) on the break.

"They were trying to make it on SportsCenter. I forgot to tell them the game was not on television so there was no SportsCenter tonight. Then they might have stayed in and rebounded a little bit."

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