Bruce Pearl tried to tell Vol fans that it would be a game, and although the final score really doesn't suggest that it was, Pearl was right. At least for a half. In fact, for half of the half, it wasn't just a game, it was Wyoming's game.
The Cowboys came out pistols smoking and opened up with a 7-0 lead. Tennessee spent five minutes ducking for cover, and when they finally warmed up, they began to pull away. But about eight minutes in, the Vols got stuck on a plateau that seemed to vanish into the horizon. From the 12:03 mark to the 5:47 mark, the Big Orange managed only to suck a measly two points worth of liquid out of a spent cactus. Meanwhile, the Cowboys kept joy-riding into the sunset, going from behind seven to in front by nine. Somehow, though, the Vols persisted and narrowed the gap by the half, heading into the locker room up, 42-41.
At that point, Wyoming had completely outshot and outrebounded our guys, but we'd been able to keep things even thanks to 25 points off of 16 turnovers to Wyoming's eight points off of seven. And then in the second half, Tennessee simply pulled away, putting more and more distance between themselves and the Cowboys as the game marched toward its end.
This evening's result was truly a team effort, with Scotty Hopson, Wayne Chism, and Tyler Smith getting 14, 13, and 10 points each, Bobby Maze and Brian Williams each getting 9, and Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins each contributing 7. Smith also had six assists, two steals, and a block.
Mostly, though, it was the Vols' defense and their ability to create turnovers and capitalize on them that won them the game. The Tennessee players were equal opportunity burglars, forcing eight different guys into multiple turnovers, but they did give some extra attention to Afam Muojeke, whom they forced to give them gifts of double digits.
Tennessee is now 8-1 with two games to go before the season shifts into overdrive with a visit to Memphis on New Year's Eve.