Tennessee fell to 2-3 in conference play on Saturday, entering a tricky road trip to Vanderbilt tonight. If history was any indication, the Vols were in for a fight tonight — and they were.
A deadlocked first half opened this one in Nashville. You could expect nothing less from the Commodores in Nashville, right? Neither side could find an advantage as both Vandy and Tennessee matched each other for a 33-32 half.
The Volunteers held the lead, but it was nothing to be comfortable with.
The seesaw continued well into the second half, as both sides made shot after shot. Kennedy Chandler scored his ninth and tenth point to give Tennessee a lead at 45-44 with ten minutes remaining in the game.
John Fulkerson, who didn’t start the game for the first time in a long time, made a key assist with eight minutes to play. He found Uros Plavsic for the and-one under the basket, which gave Tennessee a five point lead — the largest for either side on the night.
Tennessee entered the bonus from there, able to extend their lead from the free throw stripe.
With under five minutes to play, Tennessee held a 55-49 advantage. Kennedy Chandler and Scottie Pippen Jr. exchanged a couple of buckets, but the Volunteers’ lead remained in tact.
Plavsic scored his 11th point to give Tennessee an eight point lead with under four minutes to play. He was inserted into the starting lineup for Fulkerson, and responded with one of the best games of his career.
Trey Thomas hit his third three of the night to get the Commodores within one possession with two minutes to play, however. Santiago Vescovi re-entered the game with four fouls after that shot.
Chandler turned the ball over on the following possession. Pippen drilled a three to tie the game at 60. Plavsic answered with a putback layup to regain the lead at 62-60.
Zakai Zeigler stole the inbounds pass, and then was fouled. He hit two, then Vescovi hit another two.
Tennessee would go on to win it, 68-60.
Uros Plavsic was the story tonight, going for 20 minutes and scoring 13 points. Fulkerson played 16, while Huntley-Hatfield played 13.
Josiah-Jordan James exited this one after just four minutes of play and did not return.
Tennessee returns to action on Saturday, hosting LSU.