The 10th ranked Vols entered this game knowing that they would get a shot for their money from the Mississippi Rebels, and that they did.
Once again for the second game in a row the Volunteers opened the first half off to a slow start. At the break they found themselves down 33 to 28. At that point though I wasn't worried, as I thought to myself "there's no need to panic they will come out strong in the second half and pull away." Well, I was definitely wrong.
Now there was only nine minutes left to go in the game and Chris Warren with the hot hand had just hit another three-point jumper to put the Rebels up 52 to 40. Now the Vols were pretty much force to come up with a run as they didn't have much time left. That they did, as they went on a 17 to 5 run.
The game was all tied up now with less than three minutes to go. "Man this would be a tough loss, especially in the game where the Volunteer fans were introduced to Derek Dooley," I thought to myself at this point.
Vols fans found a little breathing room with 1:07 on the clock, as J.P. Prince made one of two from the line to put the Vols up 59 to 57. Especially since this was only their second lead in the entire game.
The Rebels answered back though as DeAundre Cranston nailed a two point jumper with 51 seconds to go. The Vols now took it down court and were wasting time off the clock, but to much time as they found themselves having to try to get a shot up before the shot clock expired.
Instead they turned the ball over and were going to give the Rebels a chance to win the game with a shot at the buzzer. The Rebels worked the ball down the court and at the buzzer Chris Warren put up a long three.
As the ball lifted into the air every Volunteer fan in the stadium held their breath, and then "Clank." Warren had missed the shot! The Vols had managed to force overtime, in a game where so far they had been outplayed the whole entire time.
I had a tremendous feeling now about this game, as the Vols now had all of the momentum. The Vols wouldn't let the Rebels come to Knoxville and knock them off their home court, where they were 9-0 so far this season.
Now with the game clock reading 2:00 minutes left in the overtime period, the game was tied at 61. That was until Josh Bone decided that he would make his presence known as he hit a huge three point shot. Once again though the Rebels answered back as Terrico White hit a three pointer of his own with 1:17 left on the clock.
The crazy thing though about that is he was also fouled on the shot. J.P. Prince had made contact with White and he went to the line to shoot a big free throw. He sunk it, the Rebels now were up 65 to 64. But from there on out this game would be owned by Wayne Chism.
The Vols kept giving the ball to him inside and the Rebels kept on fouling him. As they say all the time, "Seniors are the leaders", this was very true in this game. Chism went to the line three times and sank every single one of them to give the Vols a huge 71 to 69 OT win.
This just proves to everyone once again that the Tennessee Vols are the real deal. They managed to play one of the sloppiest games of their season and still managed to find a way to win. "That's what good teams do," which I say all the time.
Wayne Chism finished the game with 26 points and 12 rebounds. More impressively though he went 10 for 10 from the charity stripe and hit two huge three-pointers near the end of regulation to help get the Volunteers back in the game. So I wouldn't consider his play sloppy at all though.
This is a huge victory for Bruce Pearl and his team as they now improve to 14-2 on the season and are off to a 2-0 start in SEC play. Not to mention Mississippi is the only other ranked team in the SEC besides the second ranked Kentucky Wildcats. I could easily see the Vols moving up to a No. 8 ranking when the new poll comes out soon or even better. The next game will be against the Florida Gator on January 19.
The Tennessee Volunteers are off to a great start this year.