Tennessee Defeats Ole' Miss In A Close One, 85 To 83

Here From Coach Bruce Pearl's PostGame Press Conference By Clicking On The Video Link Attached To This Story...

Tyler Smith hit a layup with 4.2 seconds to play and No. 8 Tennessee handed No. 16 Mississippi its first loss of the season, 85-83 on Wednesday night.
With the score tied at 83 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams, Ole Miss missed several shots but grabbed four rebounds before JaJuan Smith fouled Kenny Williams with about 30 seconds left.

JaJuan Smith rebounded the missed free throw and the Vols (13-1) moved the ball around until Tyler Smith's layup.

The Rebels (13-1), who entered the game as one of Division I's last six undefeated teams, were unable to get off a final shot.

Tyler Smith and JaJuan Smith both had 21 points for Tennessee, while Chris Lofton finished with 10. Wayne Chism grabbed eight rebounds.

Chris Warren led Mississippi with 24 points, while Eniel Polynice had 20 and Dwayne Curtis finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

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Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl: "There is a reason Ole Miss came in here undefeated. We beat the defending Western Division champion. They have been on a tremendous run, including starting this season at 13-0.

"We have lost two home games in three years, to teams like that, which were big on the frontlines. We only had nine turnovers, but it hard to beat a team when they get 20 offensive rebounds. I think that is something we can fix. I told the team we will have a hard time winning games like this. Basketball fans are in for a real treat.

"At the end we tried to get Chris Lofton and Tyler Smith on the same side of the floor. Tyler Smith is one of the most productive players in college basketball. He's been spending time in the gym working on his 3-point shots. At the end, he did what we wanted him to do, stick it up their noses. We made 12 3-pointers for 46 percent, which had a lot to do with our victory.

"The layoff for our team was a factor. I do not think they were properly conditioned, and I think they were a little bit fatigued. Chris Warren is a great scoring point guard. What a talent! I was pleased that our point guards had 10 assists, and only two turnovers.

"I did not expect Ole Miss to dominate physically as much as they did. The crowd inspired us. People wanting tickets were turned away this afternoon. The building looked phenomenal.

"Eniel Polynice may be the most-improved player in the SEC, and he is only a sophomore. Without Tyler Smith and JP Prince we would be struggling. Ole Miss will be competing for the conference championship."

Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy: "I thought it was a war. We knew coming in Tennessee was a tremendous team. I said for the last three, four days to anyone who would listen, 'it is a legitimate Final Four team.' They have so many pieces and so many weapons. They spread the floor on you and are hard to guard. We had a difficult time guarding them.

"But let me tell you something about this group. We have kind of played under the radar for some time, but this group they are special men. They are not knocked out easily. They kept coming back and coming back, which I think speaks to the make-up of this team. We are disappointed obviously, hoping we can learn something and do better as a group.

"I told the group when we were up four with about two minutes to go, they were a little bit stunned. It was almost like a heavyweight fight. They had punched us hard, and we did not fall, and I thought they got a little bit fatigued. And then it just came down to a stop here and a stop there, making a free-throw. We just were not able to finish the game."

POSTGAME NOTES:

* Tyler Smith's 21 points was one short of his Tennessee high. The Pulaski native was 8-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. Entering the game, Smith was 4-of-12 from 3-point range on the season.

* The Vols' home winning streak stretched to 24 games, the fourth-longest streak in school history.

*JaJuan Smith tied for team-high honors with 21 points. His six rebounds were a season-high.

* Ramar Smith set a season-high assists with 7.

* The Vols sport a 13-1 record for the first time since the 2000-2001 team began 16-1.

Story Courtesy: AP Wire Reports & UT Sports Information


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