The Vols jumped out to an 18-9 lead but SKPU Nitra, which was coached by the head coach of the Slovakian National Team and listed several members of the national team on its roster, battled to cut Tennessee’s lead to 28-26 at the end of the first quarter. On its first possession of the second quarter Nitra tied the score 28-28 but the Vols responded with a 7-0 run to regain control.
UT outscored the Slovakians 31-16 in the second quarter but never really put the game out of reach until the closing minutes. The Vols held an 82-70 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
Ryan Childress led a balanced Tennessee scoring attack that featured six players in double-figure scoring. The junior forward had 19 points to go with six rebounds to lead all scorers. Chris Lofton added 17 points while Ramar Smith added 16 and JaJuan Smith had 13.
Sophomore forward Wayne Chism had 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds while Josh Tabb came off the bench to add 10 points and seven boards.
Tennessee began its day with a five-and-a-half hour bus ride from Prague, Czech Republic, to Bratislava, Slovakia. The trip began at 8:30 a.m. and included a 90 minute stop in the Czech town of Brno for lunch.
The Vols arrived at their hotel in Bratislava shortly after 2 p.m. and less than two hours later boarded the bus again for a hour long bus trip to the city of Nitra.
A standing room only crowd was on-hand for Tennessee’s game against the Slovakians. The crowd cheered both teams enthusiastically and stopped the UT players for photos in the parking lot after the game. Nitra’s regional mayor then hosted the team for a dinner at a local restaurant.
“The environment tonight with the community coming out as well as the mayor was great,” Pearl said. “It is what international competition is all about.”
“For the mayor to come out and treat us like this was really nice” Tabb added after the team and its supporters were finished enjoying the Slovakian-style meal. “I feel like we are back in Knoxville because the people are all so nice.
Wednesday the Vols will tour the Bratislava Castle in the morning and then spend some time visiting with patients at a local hospital in the afternoon. In the evening they will play their fourth game on the five-game tour when they make the 45 minute bus trip to Pezinok, Slovakia, to meet Pezinok BK. Tennessee’s game against Pezinok will be one of the first events held the team’s new gym.
Tennessee Scoring Summary:
Ryan Childress 19, Chris Lofton 17, Ramar Smith 16, Wayne Chism 14, JaJuan Smith 13, Josh Tabb 10, Duke Crews 9, Steven Pearl 7, Jordan Howell 4, Tanner Wild 0.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information
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