A Tennessee Volunteers team down to six scholarship players used a total team effort to knock the Kansas Jayhawks from the ranks of the undefeated this afternoon in Knoxville, 76-68. With Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince in foul trouble most of the afternoon, the Vols got double digits in points from Scotty Hopson (17), Bobby Maze (16), and Renaldo Woolridge (14). All three played spectacularly well, with Hopson and Maze aggressively attacking the basket and Woolridge hitting four of six from the arc.
That's not to say that Chism and Prince had nothing to do with this win, though, as both were game changers when they were on the floor. In fact, when Kansas finally cut what was a 4-6 point lead for the Vols through most of the second half down to two, it was Pearl's insertion of Prince and Chism into the game that allowed the team to re-extend the lead. Chism opened up the game with a Chi$$le and hit another huge three in the second half. He finished the game with eight points, four rebounds, and a block.
And Prince . . . man. Pajamas is, like Clark Kellogg said, all arms. He had four steals and eight points by the time he fouled out, and he still has that uncanny knack for finding soft spots in the defense that just don't appear to be open to other players.
Skylar McBee also played well, hitting two of four three pointers, including the game-clincher with 36 seconds remaining.
What a fantastic game for this Tennessee team. After winning at Memphis on New Year's Eve, it seemed like the team could be destined for greatness, and then poof it went at 11:30 on New Year's Day when Tyler Smith, Brian Williams, Cameron Tatum, and Melvin Goins tarnished the reputation of the program and forced fans to recalibrate their expectations for the season. A solid effort against Charlotte could have been the team just rallying and besting an inferior opponent, but this win against the #1 team in the nation proves that the team has both heart and talent and that the season might not be a waste after all. In fact, it almost seems like we might be better off somehow.