'A top-of-the-world feeling': Vols upset No. 1 Kansas

Tennessee's J.P. Prince (30) drives to the basket against Kansas'  Cole Aldrich (45) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lisa Norman-Hudson)

Photo by Lisa Norman-Hudson

Tennessee's J.P. Prince (30) drives to the basket against Kansas' Cole Aldrich (45) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lisa Norman-Hudson)

A patched-together team of Tennessee Vols pulled off arguably the biggest victory in Thompson-Boling Arena history on Sunday evening.

Down to six scholarship players as a result of the dismissal of star forward Tyler Smith and the suspension of three others, 16th-ranked UT defeated No. 1-ranked Kansas 76-68 before a sold-out crowd of 21,936.

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“It was about the effort, the courage and the teamwork,’’ said Vols coach Bruce Pearl, 2-2 against No. 1-ranked teams in his 4½-year tenure in Knoxville. “It’s pretty amazing what chemistry can do, when guys put their minds to something, and they know their backs are up against the wall.’’

Scotty Hopson led the Vols (12-2) with 17 points, while Bobby Maze had 16 and Renaldo Woolridge added 14 points as UT stunned the previously unbeaten Jayhawks (14-1).

It was the first time Tennessee played host to a No. 1-ranked team in the 23-year history of Thompson-Boling Arena and the shocking victory wasn’t secured until the final moments.

Kansas reeled off four straight points to pull to within 71-68 with 1:10 remaining.

The Vols worked the ball around on their ensuing possession before freshman walk-on Skylar McBee found himself handling the hot potato with time running down on the shot clock and Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor trapping him in the corner.

“I heard the noise rise in the crowd, and I looked at the shot clock and saw there was three seconds on it,’’ McBee said. “I pump-faked it, and (Taylor) came up in the air, so I kinda slipped under him and got the shot off.’’

The crowd erupted as the ball swished through the basket with 34 seconds left, dashing the Jayhawks’ comeback hopes.

“I think it was a prayer, and when it went in we were just so happy and everyone was smiling, and the crowd was happy,’’ Hopson said. “Skylar works so hard, and I knew when he hit that shot we would definitely win that game.’’

The Vols had created some doubts, missing three of four free-throw attempts that would have helped ice the game before Kansas went on its 4-0 run.

But, as Pearl pointed out, with senior starters Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince limited to a combined 33 minutes on account of foul trouble, three UT walk-ons played a combined 45 minutes, and they didn’t have a lot of experience closing games out.

“We missed free throws, and we turned the ball over,’’ Pearl said. “But it was the first time for a lot of them in a pressure-packed situation.’’

Neither the pressure nor the relative lack of experience affected UT’s ability to play defense, as the Jayhawks made only one of their final eight field-goal attempts and committed three turnovers over the final 4 ½ minutes.

“Kansas shooting 37 percent was significant and the difference in the game,’’ Pearl said, alluding to the Jayhawks’ season-low shooting percentage. “If Kansas shoots lights out, we got no chance, but they’re 7-for-27 shooting from three.’’

In the meantime, the Vols made 26 of 54 shots, their 48.1 percentage better than any of the Jayhawks’ previous opponents.

Woolridge hit three consecutive treys at one point early in the first half, enabling Tennessee to go on pull to a 19-19 tie at the 8:10 mark.

Kansas had led by eight points prior to Woolridge heating up.

“This is the greatest feeling in my whole life,’’ said Woolridge, who was 4-of-6 shooting and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. “It’s a top-of-the-world feeling.’’

Maze, meanwhile, felt like he had to prove something to the world against the Jayhawks’ All-America guard, Sherron Collins.

“People have said Tennessee doesn’t have good point guard play,’’ Maze said. “But we’ve had some of our best practices of the year and the coaches had a great plan.’’

Collins led Kansas with 22 points, but he was just 7-of-22 shooting and committed four turnovers to go with his four assists.

Kansas had 16 turnovers to eight for UT.

All of which left Jayhawks coach Bill Self praising Tennessee and hoping his team can take UT’s cue.

“When you talk about all the stuff they have been through, I do not think Tennessee was a team until this past week,” Self said. “I do not think Kansas is a team yet.”

Maze had eight assists and just two turnovers, and chipped in on the boards with seven rebounds.

Chism and freshman Kenny Hall shared the task of defending Kansas’ 6-foot-11 post Cole Adrich, who grabbed 18 rebounds but scored just seven points.

“My whole mission was just to stop him,’’ Hall said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything but keeping my body on him and denying him the ball.

“This is what basketball is all about; everyone did what they were supposed to do.’’

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 490

rockytopatl writes:

Skylar McBee of Tennessee!!!

VOLsince68 writes:

Awesome......

GO VOLS!!!!!

USNVOL writes:

Come on trolls...let us hear from you! HAHAHA

crimsonviper writes:

David vs. Goliath
Goliath got his azz thumped again.
GBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BigOrange93 writes:

Ammmmmaaaaaaaaazzzzzzziiiiinnnnnggggg Game!

LCfastball writes:

OH HELL YEAH BABY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rockytopatl writes:

This is beyond a signature win. This was a game for the ages and one of the best feel good stories in years. Four guys gone, then two more get in serious foul trouble and the walk-ons and the rest bring it home.

We'll sing Rocky Top all night long!

RJ_Vol writes:

Masterful game by CBP - perfect. Hope his daughter is available to sing the National Anthem the rest of the year.

volzcrushm writes:

Just when you think we are doomed.... here comes CBP and the BO. Where did this McBee guy come from?! And shouldn't that make us a top ten team again?

VOLsince68 writes:

That may be one of the best "team" games I've ever seen them play. If they hit their free throws, we probably beat them by 15.

GO VOLS!!!!!

1volfanatic writes:

Oh yeah baby!!! BACK ON TRACK!!!! GBO!!!

oldorange writes:

BIG WIN VOLS......Bobby Maze amazed me

hallmo11 writes:

SO PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Heart and hustle!!!!! Love me some Vols!!!!

jasonsvols writes:

that was a great shot mcbee had.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

ARRRGGHH! missed the second half!! Oh,well, way to GBO! Should keep the haters off for awhile.

TennHillbilly writes:

Sweet work guys. Great job coaching Bruce.
Enjoy this game for a little while and then hit the free throw line.
GBO

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Last thing I saw was Renaldo Woolridge nailing 3 after 3.

GerryOP writes:

How about them Vols!?!?!

utken1942 writes:

guys take a bow, hellva game, go kick auburm a==

topgun writes:

WAY TO GO VOLS!!!! One of the greatest BB games I've ever seen. Congrats to ALL the players and coaches!!

BigOrangeInCarolina writes:

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!! Guess ol' Verne is going to have another chin after he gets done drowning his sorrows over a UT win in a big rack of ribs. Their coach looks like he ate a turd. Speaking of turds, I wonder how the felonious four are doing after the big VOL win? Just goes to show that we have a GREAT coach and players (albeit a sparse number of them) who realize the true meaning of TEAM. Here's hoping they celebrate this one, are in bed by 11, and don't come out flat next game.

All_Vol writes:

How do you like those coaching apples Morristown?
6 scholarship players and some walkons beat the #1 team in the land. Im sure you'll say we still need to run Pearl out of town!

Mr. Hopson welcome to the show. UT fans have been waiting for a performance like that. Maybe Tyler's dismal will be a blessing in disguise.Go Vols!

dwa7#337691 writes:

wow and double wow........

nice game but free throws will get us....

allvolinatlanta writes:

Outstanding team effort, very well coached game. Where did that 3 point shooting that Woolridge put up come from?

WytheVol writes:

What a great team game today!!! Great job Vols!! That one was for all the Pearl haters...

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to TennHillbilly:

Sweet work guys. Great job coaching Bruce.
Enjoy this game for a little while and then hit the free throw line.
GBO

Yes, must practice free throws.

King_Scuba writes:

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!

TopTenn writes:

A great victory, thanks Bruce and the team.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

Could NOT be prouder of our guys...most of whom would have hardly gotten playing time in this game a week ago!! Haven't had this much fun watching a game in a long time! GBO!! Bring on the SEC!!!

mdvol writes:

Bruce is Back! Oh Hell yes!

VOLsince68 writes:

Where are ALL you Pearl bashers now. Bring it on.

What a great game........

GO VOLS!!!!!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Gosh, I miss Green and O'neil.....NOT!!!

OneShiningSparty writes:

Hey Pearl Haters!

Do you still want him out? Four stars gone, Chism in foul trouble, Prince fouls out, and UT still beats #1 Kansas. Self outcoached by Pearl today! What do y'all think now?!!!

VolFanFtl writes:

Amazing - this could not have been scripted any better!

These young men played their hearts out and Bruce Pearl coached the game of his life!

Volzo writes:

What a performance by the Vols! That's what I am talking about! How about them vols!

dcvolfan98 writes:

Way to go Vols!! Great job holding it together and walking out with a win.

james#216392 writes:

I have said it all year- less is more. You can not play 11 or 12 players and get any kind of chemistry. Listen to the old coach. I have not coached at that level nor do I have Pearl's knowledge, but basketball is basketball and chemistry makes the team. (Although I must say I would never had put Chism back in with udner 2:00 minutes to go in first half).

Great effort and great win.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Talk about a team coming together. Hiresanders, get ready big boy.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

ROCK, CHALK, WHAT??? ROCK, CHALK, FLOPHAWK!!!

GO BIG ORANGE!!!

Joevolsxtra writes:

I think it's about time UNC(11-4) slides out of the top 10 and UT(15-2) slides back in. Great game MEN!!

charles57#1378642 writes:

I hope all you Bruce Pearl doubters will now SHUT the %$#& up! GO VOLS!

drummerhill writes:

aMAZEing!

vol_4_fan writes:

That is a great win!! Way to go Vols you make us all proud. This will be all over ESPN in a great way.

realitycheck writes:

All I can say is GOOD FOR THEM!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope fans continue to support them. Great job guys!!!!!!

oldorange writes:

So, how long will it be before Mcbee gets a scholarship?

navyvolinva writes:

Stand by SEC!!

ATLVOL55 writes:

Finally...this is Bruce Pearl and Tennessee basketball from a couple of years ago....great hustle and teamwork....Congrats to these guys...it was fun to watch

wags32 writes:

How fun that was to watch a lot of players steppd up big time. First that comes to mind Mr Amaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzziiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

peerlessvolfan writes:

YOWZAH! WHAT A GAME! WHAT A TEAM! I SAID IT'S GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!

hillsborovol writes:

Bobby is aMAZEing.

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