Tyler Smith lifts Vols, 85-83

Tennessee's Tyler Smith takes a shot in the last minute to tie the game against Mississippi at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night. Smith scored the last four points of the game giving the Volunteers an 85-83 victory.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee's Tyler Smith takes a shot in the last minute to tie the game against Mississippi at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night. Smith scored the last four points of the game giving the Volunteers an 85-83 victory.

It just keeps getting better for Tyler Smith and Tennessee.

Tyler Smith scored 21 points, including the game-winner with 4.2 seconds left as UT extended its home-court win streak to 24 games with an 85-83 victory over Ole Miss on Wednesday night.

The No. 8-ranked Vols (13-1, 1-0 SEC) needed every ounce of energy that the sellout crowd of 21,846 at Thompson-Boling Arena supplied to derail the best start ever for No. 16 Ole Miss (13-1, 0-1).

“Without 21,000 in the building, we do not win this basketball game, I promise you,’’ said UT coach Bruce Pearl, who is 3-0 in SEC openers. “As it related to our conditioning, the crowd inspired us to play through that fatigue.’’

Smith was an inspiration all by himself; the sophomore transfer also pulled down six rebounds and had five assists.

“My first SEC game and I hit the game-winner in front of the home crowd,’’ said Smith, who was mobbed by his teammates on the court after the game. “It keeps getting better.’’

Ramar Smith, who had seven assists and two turnovers, said he wasn’t surprised to see Tyler Smith come through in the clutch.

“Tyler is an all-around player who can do it all,’’ Ramar Smith said. “He showed that tonight. He has a lot of moves. He was just too good for them.’’

Pearl said the final play was designed to get the ball to All-American Chris Lofton or Tyler Smith, who were set up on the same side of the floor.

Lofton received the ball, but passed up on the shot, choosing instead to get it to Smith, who was posting up in the lane.

With 4.2 seconds left and the score tied, the UT faithful held their collective breath as Tyler Smith released what proved to be the game-winner over 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward Kenny Williams.

Even after the shot swished through, the Rebels had a chance, getting an outlet pass down court to freshman sensation Chris Warren, who had scored a game-high 24 points.

Alas, Warren’s 3-point attempt from approximately 35-feet bounded harmlessly off the backboard. It was Ole Miss’ sixth consecutive missed shot over the last two minutes against the Vols’ inspired defense.

While the Rebels lost the game, Ole Miss no doubt won respect, rebounding from a 72-60 deficit with 11:03 to play by holding the Vols without a field goal for a seven-minute stretch.

David Huertas’ 3-pointer gave the Rebels an 81-79 lead at the 2:36 mark, and 15 seconds later Eniel Polynice’s spinning drive made it 83-79, forcing Pearl to call timeout.

Wayne Chism got the call and sparked UT’s late rally with a strong drive to the basket to cut the Ole Miss lead to 83-81.

Following a Warren 3-point miss, the Vols went back inside, this time, to Tyler Smith.

He backed Williams down, despite giving up an inch and 25 pounds, to score and tie the game at 83-83 with 1:18 showing on the clock.

The Rebels came out of a timeout with an offensive flurry; Williams, Huertas and Dwayne Curtis took shots before Williams was fouled.

Williams missed the front-end of his one-and-one free-throw situation with 33.6 seconds left and JaJuan Smith, who finished with 21 points, grabbed his sixth rebound to set in motion the Vols’ last-second heroics.

Pearl made it clear the game was too close for his comfort.

“I told the team, this right here is why we’ll have a hard time beating the big, physical teams on our schedule,’’ Pearl said. “I did not think Ole Miss would physically dominate like they did.’’

The Rebels out-rebounded the Vols 44-39, scoring many of their points on second-chance baskets that came off 20 offensive rebounds.

UT overcame Ole Miss’ interior strength by hitting 32-of-68 shots from the floor (47.1 percent) and 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) of its 3-point attempts.

The first half was just as hard-fought with the Vols clinging to a 45-44 lead.

Tennessee returns to action at South Carolina at 8 p.m. Saturday.

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Comments » 87

KnoxVol_in_TX writes:

Great game. No doubt that Ole Miss is a strong team. Glad to see those Vols to stick out and pull out the victory.

GO BIG ORANGE!

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

Two observations: 1) Ole Miss is for real, and 2) WTH does it take for us to get a call underneath?

VolFan32 writes:

Great game. Ole Miss is going to be a force to be reckoned with when March hits. Most poorly officiated game I have seen in a college game. I have seen High School games around here better officiated.

Volalumnus writes:

Do you think if a TN players arms or head were knocked off they would do more than ask that the floor to be cleaned up or would they think of calling a foul?
I can't blame the other teams and Ole Miss looked good but if the refs don't want things to get out of control they better start calling things both ways and not tic tacs one way and allowing the other team to blow ankles in efforts to knock down our players and not even call anything.

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

And... can someone please tell Tom Hammond that it's JAJUAN and not JAMAR Smith.

asleep#212036 writes:

Kennedy is a great coach, Ole Miss is going to get better and better. Still, very proud of the Vols for winning a tough SEC game as a home favorite. No letdown and no quit. Just think how good we will be when Lofton finally gets untracked. Wow. Go vols

dkerr#270212 writes:

What a bunch of scrappy players, nice work team. Hey, Coach, let's work on staying off that coaches line. What do ya say there, bub?

1974Vol writes:

Forget the ref's, all we need is to not let MS own the O boards and the games not even close. Chism get a board!

chrisw2967 writes:

The only real problem I see Tn having is Chism , he has no business in 3 point range and if I were Pearl, every time he wandered out there he would be sitting on the bench until he learned.We need him on the boards not out there thinking he is a guard.
But Ole Miss is for real and as far as the refs go they just plain and simple sucked.We were getting killed.Go Vols

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

I'm not excusing the poor defensive rebounding, but there were some absolutely terrible calls that, had they been called correctly, would have kept the Rebels' post players honest.

VolBall writes:

Few teams can match our intensity for 40 mins. Credit Ole Miss with tremedous heart and tenacity.

Lack of strength inside is glaring for UT. Williams really looks slow and unsure of himself since his great performance against Western Ky. Chism is way too soft. Hope Crews can get back soon.

Volalumnus writes:

I am not as worried about Chism shooting the three as others, but if he is going to allowed to do so, then why not have Williams and Chism in at the same time and let Chism work in and out.
I know he hasn't been hiting the three but he has before he must be in the same slump Lofton is.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

that kid warren is just a sutd player. He wore out, but he's super.

the board play was out of hand. I've seen NBA games with less contact.

I got the impression the refs where letting Ole Miss 'play their game'.

Wayne has got to dunk more inside and forget the layup in those games.

Chris got hammered on this drives....

Still, a good comeback from some pretty bad shot selection.

RockyTopRooks writes:

Can someone tell Chism he doesnt play SG. We have other players that can shoot threes. Why dont you try and rebound.

Volalumnus writes:

I think Chism and the soft layup are his biggest problem.

rockyknox writes:

Vols up to #3 in the RPI. After we take care of SC, Vandy and OSU look for us to be #1.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

I watched the game on the computer and was screaming at the end. Woke my wife up who was sleeping on the couch. I can go to bed now, a happy man. How in the world did we win that game. Miss is good under the boards, very good.

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

YES, WAYNE CHISM -- you got eight boards tonight! Terrific improvement...make your personal goal 10 boards per game and we have a chance to survive.

BUT you took four 3s. I echo what everyone has posted about that thus far...PLEASE stay near the paint and don't try anything over 15 feet. We need you to be a horse inside.

CoverOrange writes:

The offensive set for Chism along the perimeter is to pull their bigs out away from the basket to clear the way for drives or create mismatches, if they don't Chism is left open. Works if he hits the shot. Couldn't believe my eye seeing Ramar posting up.

Hunter writes:

We withstood a 7 minute scoring drought and stil got the "W" with tremendous defensive intensity in the last 2 minutes. Seemed like the press was less effective than usual, but Ole Miss looks legit.....

I have finally begun to question Lofton ever returning to form in a Vol uniform. Is he the kind of player that needs to be desperately needed before he really turns it on? I still want the ball in #5's hands with the game on the line. Come on Chris - make us believe again!

VolBall writes:

JuJuan Smith has the heart of a champion. His senior leadership was critical tonight. And how about Tyler Smith's play? Tyler plays under control, lets the game come to him, shares the ball and has great basketball savvy. Ramar has great physical strength that is obviously needed in SEC play. His decisions are improving and he was 3 of 4 from the line tonight.

volinlouisville writes:

Great game to watch and a great win. Man, Ole Miss looked solid. I wish we wouldn't take plays off defensively though. That and not being able to keep people off the offfensive boards may come back to haunt us.

mdvol writes:

Great game! Don't want to face Ole Miss in the SEC Tourney.

jim_bell#606576 writes:

VolCR, Why don't you ask Bruce Pearl who is or tell him who you think he. I think he would change your mind. I really feel sorry for you and your irreverence for your Creator.

tennrich1 writes:

Great Win...Chism MUST go to the low post and to the sides to pull out the big men...he's bringing them out front and clogging up our rotations and then he's launching three's..not our best choice for him...Ole Miss impressed me...

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

jim_bell, lighten up

Hacksaw57 writes:

A QUALITY WIN against a quality opponent.
Down the stretch, we have GOT to start putting teams away by getting on the boards and taking better percentage shots. I found myself saying "get the ball in Lofton's" hands" torwards the end for some reason. We didn't look real sharp at times but, considering we were playing an undefeated GOOD basketball team, it was a Great Win. Way To Go Vols!
Bring On Vandy! Let's Bust Their Bubble To!

Phowell23 writes:

No Chism please don't shoot another 3-pointer and focus on getting rebounds. Loften, please come back from vacation. Great finish...Go Vols!

cjraney writes:

Was anyone at the game? On TV the crowd seemed dead until we tied it up with 2 min left. The Ole Miss freshman had perfect silence to shoot many of his freethrows.

We really need some work on the first rule of defense: Stop the man with the ball from driving the lane.

Great win though. Very happy for Tyler Smith.

VOLinGA writes:

The good is Ole Miss is for real and it was a great win. A win is a win in the SEC. But...
Lofton has lost his aggressiveness / confidence. How many times did he defer to someone else? Not a bad quality at times, but we need Chris to come back with his Swagger and chip on the shoulder. J.Smith... love this guy. He's a competitor and the team's heart. T.Smith...where would we be without this guy? He's doing it all. R.Smith is showing glimpses of what we expect, keep it coming. Chism...please finish at the rim. Work on the hops and punch that thing home. And rebounding...will someone please go up with two strong hands and snag the ball instead of going up with one hand and pushing off with the other...

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

The problem with Lofton now is that he doesn't take as many shots as he used to take. Tonight is a good example. He was fourth in shots attempted on the team. He hit 40% from the arc, but he only took 5 shots. The three shots inside the arc that he took, he was definitely fouled on two of them.

The point is that his value to the team is not in knocking down 10-12 shots per game, as it was in the past. His value is the THREAT of knocking down those shots. Just his presence on the court opens up space for the other four guys.

As for the comments on Chism, I agree. I find myself saying "No!" every time he hoists up a 3-ball. On the flip side, I also believe that his forte is not with his back to the basket. It is also evident that one of his roles on offense is to come out to set a high screen to open up the cutter or the wing for a shot. Also, there is actually value in having a big man that can shoot from outside because the defender has to come out and guard him. Still, as someone said earlier, I'd be happy if he never shot another three ever again.

BasketballVol writes:

Good quality win against a solid Ole Miss team. I know Ole Miss is a great rebounding team this year, but it seems that we were simply out of position too often. We need to box out better and clean those boards. Congrats on the win - go Vols! Tyler Smith is the man!

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Ole Miss is very good. They have the book-end big guys inside that go about 6'8-9" and about 260-275 lbs. They put their bodies on you and move you . They crash the the boards and knock you out of the way, or they climb your back and get the rebound that way. Lofton was fouled on the first possession as he took the ball to the basket. He was actually fouled as he drove to the basket and after he shot the ball. I knew then that this officiating crew was not going to call many fouls on the visiting team. This is how you take the home court advantage away. But even with this , if we can defend the penetration we can continue to increase our lead. Maybe our biggest defensive weakness is our ability to prevent the quick guards from easily getting to the basket. The OM player who turned his ankle knocked our offensive player down with that 260 lb body, NO CALL...Tyler has a wonderful block later , near the basket, where there is no body contact and he hits only the ball and he gets called for a foul. Inconsistent, inconsistent, inconsistent. The time out to find out where to put the ball in play was terrible. It is ironic that Valentine ( the official who did not know where to place the ball in play) is the same official that gave Vanderbilt the ball at mid coutr last year instead of at the foul line extended after we took our last free foul in the lose to Vandy. They never even considered getting that spot correct. Inconsistency, inconsistency, inconsistency. I know how difficult it is to officiate, and no one will ever have a perfect game, but while we expect so much from these kids, youngsters or young men, we should expect a better officiated game from these adults who make a great deal of money doing this. They will pocket $2,000 to $2,500 each from the game. It will be a better game when some of the finess is returned to the game and brut force is punished with called fouls.
Bruce has got to quit getting technical fouls. Two points really matter in most SEC games. What in the world was his son doing in the game for a brief time in the second half? What has happened to Josh Tabb and the freshman recruit that is not seeing any time?

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

In other hoops-related news, CJ Watson had 11 points and 4 assists for Golden State tonight. Not a bad debut.

TommyJack writes:

Looks like Chism will become the Arian Foster whipping post of round ball. You tunnel-vision guys kill me.

budrhon writes:

Chism doesn't give an intimidating presence down low. Everyone complains about him taking the 3, but the eyes should stare at Pearl for allowing it. The problem with him taking that shot tonight is that he doesn't react to the fact he has to get back down court. His post defense against the Rebs Bigs was very weak, but then maybe he's fighting an injury or health condition. Hats off to Ole Miss they are good and the Vols squeaked one out tonight.

rootin4volz writes:

Whew!

FWBVol writes:

jwraymond1, Pearl said the crowd was the difference in the game. I'll take his word over your long-distance opinion.

jim_bell, you beat me to the statement. Pearl is a great basketball coach, but he was born, and will die. God was and always will be.

2000man writes:

I think I'm going to have to drink heavily after that one tonight.

volchamp writes:

ill drink a beer after the game. Lofton had a couple good shots. Refs sucked tonight from what I could see. Just dont want people to get down on him for decreased production. We have more weapons this year than last and because of that he is not going to take as many shots.
Great win though, keep it rolling vols!

utchris writes:

www.firebertbertlkamp.com

madisonvillevol writes:

lofton doesn't have to score 30 every night. this team is deep. if we don't find someone to get in there scrap under the basket it will bite us in the the butt one of these nights. rebounding is about attitude and no one on this team seems to have it. chism is 6'9", but doesn't seem to like to mix it up much. childress will bang and he has some attitude and a mean streak in him. and no, pearl is no god, let's keep it in perspective boys!

natcross24#581803 writes:

ge446, i am with you. not sure what has happeened to Tabb. i personnally think he needs to get some playing time. this was a great win tonight, GREAT win, but the team often looks ragged at times. we cant rebound and it seems we gamble too much on defense. when Tabb was playing he seemed to bring a a calming effect and did not require alot offensively. i am not sure what has happened there. we have 2 weak points being half court defense and rebounding, and those are his two strong points. i am not sure how he would fit in the rotation but i sure would like to see him back in there. difficult to see other teams play volleyball with rebounds. we need all the help we can get in that category.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

TDTN - 6:09 agreed, they let them play. Great win, but Ole Mess with 20 offensive rebounds! Whew. We need a boar hog under the goal.

Pearl is a gem. Can't wait till Vandy and UK outings. Vandy is tuff with their Aussie.

JHite7 writes:

Most poorly officiated game. These idiots could not do well in a TSSAA game...let alone SEC competition. Teddy Valentine was the absolute worse. He was also the one I do recall that when Bobby Knight went on the floor went to check on an injured player, T'ed him up. I really hope their superiors will get wind of this tape. This game got out of hand real quick. Numerous over the back calls, and stoppages so Valentine could get some face time on camera. If I were Pearl, this tape would be sent to the league office, and also the NCAA. Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder could have called a better game.

But overall, great win. Tyler Smith is the real deal...and Wayne...get in the post where you belong and quit being so soft. You look like a rag doll in the paint.

Retiredvol writes:

What is wrong with Lofton there days?? His percentages are dropping every game.

feathersax writes:

WHAT A GAME! Two super teams that could well meet again in the tournament. Is Ted Valentine the WORST official in since the peach basket was nailed up? Bob Knight told us that years ago when he was at IU. Valentine's Day is coming up; hope he gets terminated.

ssukonic#254241 writes:

Hunter, I think your comment about Chris Lofton not "turning it on" is way off base. He's doing lots of little things that go un-noticed by some...assists, defense, passing, etc. He's having a tough time scoring wise, no doubt. But it's not because of a lack of effort. Sometimes, he's too unselfish. He passed up a three last night as a defender was coming at him (but wasn't there yet) to pass to an unguarded teammate in the right corner. I'm not sure if it was J. Smith or T. Smith but whoever it was burried it! C. Lofton's problems aren't due to lack of effort.

knoxtenor writes:

If Bert Bertelkamp says "MONEY!" one more time... Arrrgh! I appreciate your enthusiasm, Bert, and I know that you, as a former player, can't help but be really excited to see UT men's b-ball actively competitive with football and the Lady Vols again in terms of play and fandom. And I appreciate your occasional insight into the game. But sheesh! Your on-air antics actually make Bob Kessling sound like a competent play-by-play man. Scary.

airship writes:

ole miss is a very good team and will win a lot of games. go vols we are proud of you.

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