Tennessee junior Wayne Chism played against Oklahoma State last Friday with a broken left thumb, coach Bruce Pearl revealed on Tuesday.
“He hurt it in our practice at Wright State (Wednesday); I think he got it tangled in Tanner Wild’s jersey,’’ said Pearl, who had the Vols go through a live scrimmage. “He was late for shooting practice the day before the game because we had it X-rayed.’’
Pearl and the Vols’ staff were particularly protective of the information regarding Chism’s injury because Oklahoma State would have looked to exploit UT even more inside.
The Cowboys beat the Vols 77-75 in the first round of the NCAA tournament East Region in Dayton, Ohio.
UT put up 33 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (making 11) as a result of Oklahoma State’s packed-in 2-3 zone, but also, because of Chism’s hand injury.
“It affected us because Wayne couldn’t use his left hand, and consequently, he couldn’t score as well,’’ said Pearl, who after the game pointed out Chism made only one 2-point basket. “Wayne’s our best inside scorer with his back to the basket.’’
Oklahoma State post Marshall Moses score 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting, but Pearl said Chism’s hand wasn’t as big of a factor.
“Moses only scored four points on Wayne,’’ Pearl said.
The Vols primarily used 6-foot-10 sophomore post Brian Williams on the 6-6 Moses.
Pearl said UT still could have won, even with the injury to Chism.
“Wayne’s thumb was a factor for us,’’ Pearl said. “But we didn’t want to ... we’re not looking for any excuses.’’