Fouls could doom UT

Two Tennessee starters played less than 20 minutes of basketball before fouling out Saturday night against South Carolina. That kind of sloppiness could doom the Vols tonight at Vanderbilt.

The Commodores rank third among SEC teams in free-throw shooting at 74.3 percent, and they get to the foul line a lot – an average of 22.2 times per game. Vandy is especially adept at getting to the free-throw line when playing at Memorial Gym. The most recent UT-Vandy meeting, last Feb. 26 in Nashville, saw the Dores shoot a whopping 37 foul shots in upsetting the top-ranked Vols 72-69.

That does not bode well for a Tennessee team which has shown itself to be foul-prone this season.

Saturday night 6-9 240-pound Wayne Chism picked up two fouls in the game's first 2:44 and sat out the rest of the first half. He wound up playing just 11 minutes and being held scoreless. He must play smarter tonight, since he historically is a Commodore killer.

Chism is averaging 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in four career games against Vandy. He has shot 51.3 percent from the floor, including 41.7 percent from 3. In the 2008 meeting at Knoxville he posted 18 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks. In the rematch at Nashville he produced 17 points and 12 rebounds.

If Chism picks up quick fouls tonight he may doom the Vols. He nearly did so Saturday night vs. South Carolina.

"Wayne certainly was a huge part of our gameplan – to try to go at them when he was at the 4 and to try to go at (Carolina post Mike) Holmes," Vol head coach Bruce Pearl said. "But they got him in foul trouble."

Only one of Chism's five fouls vs. the Gamecocks came while defending an inside shot. He picked up the first on a charge while trying to lead a fast break. He picked up No. 2 by throwing an elbow. He got his third on another charge and picked up his fourth while trying to steal the ball near midcourt.

"He had some fouls out away from the basket that were difficult," Pearl conceded. "He got a couple of tough calls, and then he obviously didn't handle it."

Simply put, Chism must show better self-control and discretion tonight than he did vs. South Carolina.

Self-control is not a problem for Prince, who lasted just 17 minutes vs. the Gamecocks. His problem is purely physical. Slowed by an ankle injury that has plagued him virtually all season, he struggles to keep pace with quicker opponents.

"J.P. Prince played well but he fouled out in only 17 minutes," Pearl noted. "You can still see J.P. is not able to move his feet. He got a lot of defensive fouls where he was trying to keep guys in front of him and he had a difficult time doing it."

Bottom line: The Vols need more minutes and fewer fouls from Chism and Prince than they got Saturday night.

Tonight's tipoff is set for 8 o'clock Central Time with ESPN providing TV coverage.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories