Slay finished with 33 points, and Thaydeus Holden made six free throws down the stretch as the Volunteers beat Georgia 78-72 Saturday, earning their first victory over a ranked team in five tries this season.
Despite Slay's shooting, the Vols still managed to make it a close game. They broke a tie and took the lead for good after Slay made the first of two free throws with 2:04 left.
But Tennessee's lead wasn't comfortable until the final seconds. The Vols (13-6, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) had lost three of the previous five games against Georgia (13-6, 5-3) in overtime or at the buzzer, including last month's meeting in Athens.
Holden finished with 15 points, and Brandon Crump had 16. Slay was 12-of-18 from the floor.
The Vols led by four at halftime, but Georgia went ahead 44-43 with 14:12 left on Ezra Williams' jumper. Slay hit a 3 and then had a slam to keep the Bulldogs from getting too far ahead.
Georgia had been outrebounded in conference games by an average of 3.6 a game while Tennessee averaged an advantage of 3.4. But the Bulldogs outrebounded the Vols 35-24 and tenaciously guarded the basket whenever Slay got the ball inside.
Slay still kept scoring. He had seven straight points as Tennessee erased a four-point deficit and went ahead 17-16 with 11 minutes left in the first half.
The Vols will now go on to play Arkansas in Fayetteville on Wednesday evening. At this point, all SEC games will be pivotal for Tennessee if they hope to get a seed in the NCAA Tournament.