Rebounding Rebs rout Vols

Life on the road is tough in SEC basketball, and the Tennessee Vols weren't nearly tough enough to meet the challenge Wednesday at Ole Miss. The result, appropriately enough, was a tough loss.

The Big Orange couldn't compete on the backboards, losing that battle 44-30. Fourteen of the Rebels' rebounds came off the offensive glass, leading to 21 second-chance points. That provided the winning edge in their 81-65 thumping of the Vols.

Speaking on his post-game show, UT head man Bruce Pearl conceded that his team came up short in terms of "mental and physical toughness."

Although the loss dropped Tennessee to 7-4 in SEC play, the Vols remain tied for the SEC East lead with Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina.

In addition to rebounding poorly, the Big Orange shot poorly. Tennessee, now 16-9 overall, made just 25 percent (6 of 24) from beyond the arc and a lame 45.8 percent (11 of 24) from the foul line.

Memphis native Terrico White contributed 21 points and 6 assists to pace Ole Miss, which improves to 14-11 overall and 5-6 in SEC play. Fellow freshman Murphy Holloway made 8 of 10 field-goal tries and chipped in 18 points and 13 rebounds. David Huertas added 16 points.

Wayne Chism scored 19 points and Tyler Smith 16 for Tennessee, which was outscored 47-33 in the second half after trailing just 34-32 at intermission. Part of the problem was 2-of-14 shooting from 3 over the game's final 20 minutes.

White, Huertas and Zach Graham hit a 3-pointer each in a 16-3 explosion that widened Ole Miss' two-point halftime lead to 50-35. The Vols never drew closer than 10 points thereafter.

"When they got off to that (second-half) start ... it just wasn't good," Pearl said. "What they did in the second half – driving the ball to the basket – was exactly what they should've done in the first half."

Much as Auburn's guards did earlier this month, Ole Miss' guards drove past Tennessee's defenders with alarming ease – either finishing themselves or dishing to open teammates for layups. On those rare occasions when the first shot rimmed out, the Rebels always seemed to have a rebounder in position to clean up the miss.

"When Terrico White and Murphy Holloway and David Huertas and Zach Graham are able to drive around you, help is going to draw (to the penetrator)," Pearl said. "Then you lose your backside rebounding."

White, who has moved from shooting guard to the point since Chris Warren suffered a season-ending knee injury in Ole Miss' 11th game, wore out Tennessee's junior point guards all night long.

"Bobby Maze couldn't guard Terrico White," Pearl noted. "He didn't even come close to keeping him even remotely out of the lane. It was a complete physical mismatch at that position. Josh Tabb did a little bit better but still struggled to guard Terrico White."

The Vol coach was equally critical of his point guards' offensive execution. Tennessee did not score a single point in transition.

"Our point guards did not advance-pass the ball up the floor," he said. "Bobby dribbled it too much and Josh turned it over a couple of times advance-passing it."

The road doesn't get any easier for the Vols. They return to action Saturday at Kentucky, a team which hammered them 90-72 in Knoxville on Jan. 13.

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