NASHVILLE — The going got tough for Tennessee, and Wayne Chism got going.
The junior forward scored a career-high 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the 16th-ranked Vols to an 80-68 victory over 24th-ranked Marquette on Tuesday night at the Sommet Center.
An almost exclusively orange-clad crowd of 9,498 watched as UT (7-2) went toe-to-toe in the SEC/Big East Invitational with the Golden Eagles (8-2).
The game was a virtual dead heat throughout most all of the first three-fourths before Chism asserted himself at the offensive end, the defensive end and at the free throw line.
Chism sank two of his three free throw attempts at the 10:08 mark to tie the game at 48-48.
Then it was Chism on the defensive end, boxing out and drawing and over-the-back foul, and then hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw situation to put UT up with 9:38 left.
Chism went back on defense and drew yet another foul after coming up with the ball in a scramble, frustrating Marrquette’s Dominic James to the point that he got a technical.
Tyler Smith hit two technical free throws, then Chism drained both ends of another 1-an-1, and the Vols were up 54-48 with 9:15 left.
After a pair of Cameron Tatum free throws, Chism scored on a dunk, a tip, another dunk and then buried a 3-pointer that gave UT a 65-58 advantage with 5:56 left.
Marquette closed to 70-68 on Lazar Hayward’s 3-pointer with 2:20 left, but Josh Tabb answered with a 3-pointer for the Vols to give the Vols the necessary cushion to hold off the Golden Eagles.
The teams battled to a 32-32 tie through the first half, neither able to get into any sort of uptempo transition game.
Marquette led by as many as nine points when Wesley Matthews split a pair of free throws to give the Golden Eagles a 15-6 lead at the 13:14 mark.
UT came back with an 11-4 spurt sparked by Tatum’s drive to the basket and capped by a Tyler Smith jumper in the lane that pulled the Vols to 19-17.
Tuesday night’s game was the first between the teams since NBA all-star — then-Marquette standout — Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to an 85-74 win over the Vols at the 2001 Great Alaska Shootout.
Tennessee plays Belmont at 3 p.m. Saturday (TV: SportSouth) at Thompson-Boling Arena, where the Vols have a 35-game win streak.