Vols nip Rebs in OT, 71-69

They say it takes 40 good minutes to win a basketball game. Saturday at Thompson-Boing Arena it took more than that.

Wayne Chism hit 6 of 6 foul shots in the final 60 seconds of overtime - his 41st minute on the floor - in lifting No. 9 Tennessee to a dramatic 71-69 defeat of No. 21 Ole Miss before 20,714 white-knuckled fans.

Chism finished 10 of 10 from the foul line and 7 of 13 from the floor en route to a season-high 26 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, made 2 steals and dished out an assist. All in all, it was a pretty productive 41 minutes for the 6-9, 245-pound senior.

"Wayne Chism was the best player on the floor," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "Wayne Chism put this team on his back."

Even with Chism playing like a first-round NBA Draft pick, the Vols were fortunate to win against a tough and combative bunch of Rebels. Up 33-28 at the half, Ole Miss built the lead to 52-40 on a Chris Warren jumper with 9:18 to go.

As fate would have it, though, Warren was finished scoring for the afternoon and Chism was just getting started. With the Vols down 54-46, he drained back-to-back 3-pointers that whittled the gap to 54-52.

"Wayne took charge, made a couple of big shots," Pearl noted. "He played like a senior."

Walk-on Josh Bone hit another 3 seconds later to complete a 9-0 spurt that put Tennessee on top 55-54 with 5:23 remaining.

Zach Graham's drive gave the Rebels a 56-55 lead but J.P. Prince answered to put the Vols up 57-56 with 4:15 to play. Graham and UT's Kenny Hall made a free throw each, giving the home team a 58-57 lead entering the final two minutes.

Prince hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to pad the lead to 59-57 with 1:07 left but Ole Miss' DeAundre Cranston tied the score on a putback with 51 seconds left.

Tennessee turned the ball over on its final possession of regulation but Warren missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.

Ole Miss scored first in OT but a 10-footer by Scotty Hopson and a 3-pointer by Bone gave Tennessee a 64-61 lead. A rare four-point play by Terrico White (made 3-pointer, plus a foul) put Ole Miss on top 65-64 with 1:12 to go, setting the stage for Chism's last-minute heroics.

He hit two free throws with 49.7 seconds to play, then two more with 15.4 remaining to give Tennessee a 68-65 lead. After a Warren turnover, Chism made two more free throws, widening the gap to 70-65 with 12.8 seconds left.

Vol fans were celebrating but the game wasn't over just yet. White hit a largely uncontested basket to trim the gap to 70-67, then the Rebels fouled Prince, a 58-percent foul shooter. After missing the first try, he got the second to rattle home, expanding the lead to 71-67 with 6.8 seconds left.

Ole Miss' final bucket was moot.

Prince had a productive night statistically, finishing with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 turnovers for the Vols, now 14-2 overall and 2-0 in SEC play.

Pearl quipped that Prince "almost had a quadruple-double," noting: "He was four turnovers away from having 10 turnovers. But he has 13 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. He made great plays. He's an offensive and defensive play-maker. He knows how to make plays."

Warren scored 19 points to pace Ole Miss but made just 5 of 18 shots and finished with more turnovers (5) than assists (1). Memphis native Terrico White added 17 points for the Rebels, now 13-4 overall and 1-2 in league play.

Although Bone did a dandy defensive job on Warren, the big story in this game was Chism, who was especially proud of his 10-for-10 showing from the free-throw line.

"That is great, man. That is great," he said. "I went to the line, focused and made the shots."

Normally, the ball would be in the hands of point guard Bobby Maze in late-game situations. Maze was so exhausted from Thursday night's game with Auburn, however, that he gave way to Bone for most of the second half and all of the overtime.

"I didn't see Bobby in the game to go back and get it (the ball)," Chism said. "I didn't want to take Josh's time but I felt good at the free-throw line, so I just said, 'Give me the ball and I'll take care of it.'"

And that's exactly what he did.

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