Vols shock No. 1 Memphis

Tennessee's Chris Lofton and Jajaun Smith celebrate as the volunteers capture the lead in the final minutes against Memphis.

Photo by Mike Brown/Commercial Appeal

Tennessee's Chris Lofton and Jajaun Smith celebrate as the volunteers capture the lead in the final minutes against Memphis.

Knoxville celebrates UT's win over Memphis

MEMPHIS — Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said he doesn’t know if the Vols are the best team in the country.

“But I told my players before the game, I know we’re 40 minutes away from being No. 1,” said Pearl, whose team will ascend to the top spot for the first time in school history when the top 25 polls come out Monday. “Tonight was a find-a-way-to-win night.’’

UT did just that, dethroning previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Memphis 66-62, ending what had been the nation’s longest homecourt win streak at 47.

The No. 2 Vols (25-2) pulled the plug on an electric-blue charged crowd of 18,389 at FedEx Forum in the final seconds.

Memphis native J.P. Prince scored all 13 of his points in the second half, including a pair of pressure-packed free throws out of a one-and-one foul shot situation with 8.8 seconds left that gave the Vols a 64-61 lead.

“That boy has been making those two free throws in the driveway in Memphis his whole life,” said Prince’s father, John, who is a former Tigers’ assistant coach.

Memphis (26-1) took possession after Prince’s second make and moved upcourt quickly. But before the Tigers could get a shot off, Ramar Smith took Pearl’s instruction to foul Derrick Rose with 4.5 seconds left.

Rose, who led Memphis with 23 points, made the first free throw before intentionally missing the second.

Tigers’ post Joey Dorsey tipped the ball out, but UT All-American Chris Lofton was waiting.

“We knew they liked to tip it back,” Lofton said. “I was just there to get it and seal it.”

Lofton was fouled immediately with 2.9 seconds left and calmly iced the game by hitting both ends of a one-and-one free throw situation for the final margin.

Tyler Smith led the Vols with 16 points, including back-to-back buckets after Memphis had gone up 61-58 on a Chris Douglas-Roberts (14 points) drive with 2:27 left.

Smith scored the go-ahead basket on a high-arcing turnaround in the lane.

“I pump-faked twice, thinking (Robert) Dozier would come off his man and try to block the shot, and then I could spoon-feed a teammate,” Smith said. “But he didn’t come over; I’d already been in the lane two seconds, so I had to shoot.”

The three areas that enabled the Vols to win the game — clutch free-throw shooting, rebounding and defense — were targeted by Pearl in the offseason and have been points of emphasis all season.

But not even Pearl could have anticipated the Vols out-rebounding Memphis 50-34 and limiting the Tigers to 39.7 percent shooting.

“We sat up in that hotel room today watching those ESPN guys talk about Dorsey and Dozier, saying Tennessee was weak inside,” said Chism, who outscored Dorsey 14-1 and out-rebounded him 7-6. “So me and Duke (Crews) and Brian (Williams) got together and said, ‘Do we want to keep going to games with people saying we’re weak inside but we’re saved by our guards?’”

The Vols’ big men let their play do the talking, outscoring Memphis 36-16 in the paint.

“We said early on, Joey (Dorsey) and Robert (Dozier) and our inside people really were going to have to fight like heck,” Tigers coach John Calipari said. “They tried, but they got outfought.”

Senior wing JaJuan Smith aided the cause, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds and scoring nine points in the first half as UT withstood an early barrage of Memphis 3-pointers.

The Tigers held a 35-34 lead at the half on the strength of 8-of-20 shooting beyond the arc against an unorthodox man-to-man defense that took on the appearance of a zone.

Memphis cooled off in the second half, going 0-for-7 beyond the 3-point arc and struggled to penetrate against the Vols’ tight defense.

“I thought we had them at the end,” Calipari said. “They made plays and we didn’t, which is really unusual for us.”

The win marks the second time in the past three years UT has beat the final unbeaten team left in the regular season, having topped a 17-0 Florida team two years ago.

The Vols return to action at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Vanderbilt (23-4, 8-4). The Commodores are 17-0 at home this season.

© 2008 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 332

cst8484 writes:

Awesome!!!! Great win guys!!!!!

bmaples writes:

WOW! What a win! Great job, CBP and all the Vols!

FLAVOLS writes:

As I said all along - Tennessee will win! The University of Tennessee - THE state school of Tennessee and we do own Memphis!

GO VOLS WE BEAT MEMPHIS!! again!!

4everavolfan writes:

GO VOLS!!!

What a win!!

#1 Folks...

rick7226#233490 writes:

a few years ago this we could no have been believed possible...unreal

ksteelescvol writes:

WOW... Does anything else need to be said??? Its beer thirty in Columbia. JP you da man...

Volunteerfan writes:

How about them Vols? What heart...Good job guys you deserve to be number 1 and all of us in vol nation are proud of you

tenndave writes:

Rocky Top, you'll always be, home sweet home to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

DennisVols writes:

How bout them VOLS!!!!!!

mun4life#454315 writes:

man i had a heart attack

dcvolfan98 writes:

All these tough road wins has to be an advantage come tournament time. Awesome win for UT. Let's get ready for Vandy now.

Everybody say it: Tennessee is #1 in men's basketball!!!

tnvolsr1st writes:

OMG, what an unbelievable game. It is great to be part of the Vol Nation! UT Vols are No. 1!!!!

bshell12 writes:

# 1

jhmclain#224991 writes:

I was there during the Ernie and Bernie years and this is a lot bigger! Pay Pearl whatever it takes to keep him as head coach. Just friggin incredible to see what he has done in such a short time. GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

surfmaster writes:

Somebody pass me some orange kool-aid.

AllVol writes:

What, exactly, was the "shock?" This is BIG ORANGE COUNTRY. GO VOLS!!

b.skelton#207404 writes:

Congrats Vols. Now lets get ready for Vandy. I'm wearing my orange and white shirt to church tomorrow morning!

chrisw2967 writes:

here kitty,kitty
great win and that was a team effort.

I guess we wont get no Tiger lovers on here tonite.

Vol_In_Ohio writes:

Long way to go but can't take away first #1 ranking ever!!!

What a game to watch!

jr8657 writes:

absolutly unbelievable!!!!!!! for the first time ever!!!1 we are #1!!!!!!!! just keep up the fantastic work men!!!!!

SFOrange writes:

A great intense game. These guys ARE good. Huge win. Now, on to Vandy. Go Orange!

Vol_In_Ohio writes:

I want to see 1,000 comments on here! This is huge!

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

BEAT VANDY! MORE IMPORTANT!!

surfmaster writes:

Everybody say it with me. Alltogether now. LIFE-TIME-CON-TRACT LIFE-TIME-CON-TRACT LIFE-TIME-CON-TRACT!!!!

Hamilton, please pay the man!

AllVol writes:

I'm with you, Surfmaster--with a splash of Tennesee White Lightning . . . .

mmhartz writes:

Gas to Memphis and back-$120. Tickets to the game-$600. Seeing coach Calipari make excuses as to why they lost to UT [a "regional" team]-Priceless. GO VOLS!!! We're #1!!

VolHooch14 writes:

Coach Pearl....
YOU DA MAN!

I still am sitting here catching my breath. What an awesome win.

GO VOLS!

ODA751 writes:

What a gutsy win. This is a great TEAM. Go Vols!

bmaples writes:

Now VANDY, then KENTUCKY, then FLORIDA, then SOUTH CAROLINA!! Four more, guys, four more, and you can do something special -- HANG A BANNER!

Then it's on to the SEC Tourney, and maybe another banner! Then on to the Big Dance, and dare we say it -- possibly another banner (Final Four) or even two!

First things first -- Vandy!

Congrats again -- amazing!

TnFarmer writes:

One word "excellent"

jandjhome#228397 writes:

They can change those blue light bulbs at Graceland to Orange.

murrayvol writes:

It would be hard to describe the pleasure derived from J.P. Prince (47.2%) nailing both free throws after Dorsey got in his face. Sweet!!

While most of us would prefer a blowout, this was a helluva basketball game with most of America tuned in.

cooperF2 writes:

way to leave it all on the court Vols! those boys have got some heart!

bobbyutvol writes:

I bet I hate Orange T shirts are cheap at tiger high now lmao. What a coach and what a team... GO VOLS we are very proud of you

jhmclain#224991 writes:

This could/should be huge for recruiting! Also shows there should be life after Lofton leaves. GO BIG ORANGE!

hdhurst writes:

No. 1 ba-beeeeeeee!

Memphis didn't lay down, we just took the "V" in their house.

For all the criticisms we have given JP and Wayne (me being one of them), these guys certainly did their part to take TN to the top.

Everyone did their part, though (can you imagine us winning with Jujuan and Chris combining for just 13 points???)

Yes, No. 1 will end soon (probably less than a week), but how sweet that orange Kool-aid tastes right about now.

Win or lose, proud to be a VOL, but it can't feel any better than this in Orange Nation.

GO VOLS!!!!

dopedawg writes:

Where are you Zander? How are you Airforce 1? What happened to the puddy tats? Looks like the dog ate'em. Go Vols!!!! Beat Vandy!!!! I am really proud of the boys. We should all be!!!!
I the words of Charlie Daniels--"Aint it great to be alive and to be in Tennessee!!!!" I guess the puddy tats will be singing the blues and crying vol-un-tears!!!

fundamentals83 writes:

Wonder how many of those students hung around for the game day wrap up.

tubavol writes:

What happened to all of the Tiger fans posting on here earlier? They must still be curled up in the fetal position.

Cleve writes:

Awesome. Way to man-up, JP!!

Adams, you still suck.

invisiblekid writes:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it Tiger High!! Gutsy win by the Vols, this should give this team plenty of confidence going down the stretch knowing that they can win against the big boys. Celebrate tonight then start worrying about Vandy, Nashville is always a tricky place to play.

bUTchVFL writes:

Just another game. Would you expect anything else from Tiger High? SEC championship NCAA title. Go Vols!

TopperVol75 writes:

University of Tennessee Volunteers....
STATE CHAMPS!!!
Oh yeah, we are number 1 in the nation, too.

ssukonic#254241 writes:

Wow, what a game. Lived up to it's hype. Memphis's defense on Chris Lofton was great. He really had almost no open looks. However, as always, if he's not getting to score via the three, his drives to the hoop are teriffic. His pass to Prince from the floor was typical Chris Lofton. He also got a big, big rebound at the end and calmly hit both freethrows.....money!! Our two sophmore transfers came up big again. Tyler Smith hit that big shot in the lane late while getting bumped and banged .....and made it anyway. Man, we outrebounded Memphis 50-35....Wow!! Derrick Rose was unstoppable for them. Ramar fought like hell but couldn't stop him. I'm guessing no one else can either. It sure feels great....to be.....a Tennessee Vol!!! Number one in the nation, baby!!!!

tigervol9802 writes:

I don't even care about #1. Just putting Tiger High in their place.

fundamentals83 writes:

Zander, Body Bags... C'Mon... You guys aren't that good. I think Vandy will be more of a challenge.

Reflections writes:

This team finds a way to win! Pearl has instilled a sense of toughness that the UT men's BB team hasn't had in many a year. They never give in and compete for 40 minutes. I never thought they would get 19 offensive rebounds, out rebound Memphis by 40-25 and outscore them 16-2 in the paint. How far can they go?!?!

OldNumber7 writes:

Pearl, you are class and I hope you like it here. Thank you.

dopedawg writes:

KEEP THE FAITH ALL!!! DONT STOP NOW!!!
I cant believe we are #1!!!!!!

chrisw2967 writes:

I hope ESPN keeps going against us and Cal is a 100% pr$#k , he cant stand to lose against Pearl.

Pearl deserves a big pay day.
now just stay focused and one game at a time.

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