BATON ROUGE, La. — Tennessee guard Bobby Maze had been heckled by LSU fans with chants of “Air Ball” all night long after missing his first shot in the game.
But with 16.6 seconds left and the game on the line, Maze hit both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw situation to help secure a victory after the Tigers had pulled to within one.
Tennessee (17-4, 5-2 SEC) scored a 59-54 victory over LSU (9-13, 0-8) Thursday night at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The 14th-ranked Vols were seemingly in control with 8:05 left, holding a 51-37 lead over a Tigers team that had not drawn closer than eight in the second half.
But Bo Spencer banked in a long 3-pointer to trigger a 17-4 run that brought LSU to the brink of an upset before Maze’s clutch shots gave the Vols a 57-54 lead.
Senior All-SEC forward Tasmin Mitchell missed a 3-pointer on LSU’s next trip down, and Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson rebounded the ball and was fouled with 3.7 seconds left.
Hopson hit both free throws to put the finishing touches on the victory.
Wayne Chism led the Vols with 20 points and seven rebounds while J.P. Prince and Hopson scored eight apiece.
Spencer led the Tigers with 25 points.
LSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead through the first three minutes, hitting its first two shots of the game.
But point guard Melvin Goins came off the bench at the 17:10 mark and hit a 3-pointer, and Chism followed suit on the next trip down and UT took a 6-5 lead at the 16:23 mark.
Tennessee’s run reached 13-0 before the Tigers finally scored again at the 9:56 mark — Aaron Dotson’s bucket inside was LSU’s first first field goal in over eight minutes.
UT held the Tigers to 6-of-25 shooting in the first half, and LSU missed its first nine 3-point attempts before Spencer drilled a pair of treys right before half.
Chism closed the opening 20 minutes with a put-back, scoring eight of his points and grabbing five of his rebounds before intermission.
The Vols return to action at 6 p.m. Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena against South Carolina (13-8, 4-3). The Gamecocks have been idle since their 78-77 win over Georgia last Saturday.