Vols halt slump with rout of Tigers
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
It was the win the Volunteers have been looking for after dropping four of the past six games, including an embarrassing 91-78 loss to College of Charleston on Friday.
It was the first true road game this season for a young Memphis squad that has seven freshmen, including three who start. The Tigers won a neutral-site game against LSU in Tupelo, Miss., on Nov. 21 and lost one to Kansas in New York City on Dec. 7.
Tennessee (10-4) came out hot, hitting three early 3-pointers. Trae Golden passed to Scotty Hopson for an alley-oop dunk that got the crowd loud and launched a 14-2 run that gave the Vols a 28-12 lead with 10:41 in the first half.
The Vols grabbed nine more rebounds than the Tigers in the first half by dominating the offensive boards and turned them into 16 second-chance points. They pushed their lead to 23 points on an underhanded layup by Jeronne Maymon with 4:45 left before halftime.
After looking lifeless for most of the half, Memphis (11-3) went on a 7-0 run to cut Tennessee's lead to 49-34 at halftime. The Tigers opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Will Barton followed by a D.J. Stephens layup to trim the Vols' lead to 10, but it was as close as they would get.
Hopson got a dunk, and Melvin Goins followed with back-to-back 3s to answer Memphis' run, and the Vols built their lead to as many as 36 points late in the game.
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl pledged to cut his rotation to just 10 players who were committed to playing defense after Charleston managed to shoot 57 percent against the Vols. He kept his word until emptying his bench late in the second half with his team up by 32 points.
His starters answered the call on both ends of the court with Hopson getting 16 points, Goins adding 15 and Maymon scoring 10.
It was Pearl's last game before beginning a suspension issued by Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive. Slive suspended Pearl for lying to NCAA investigators during an ongoing probe into recruiting practices by the Tennessee coaching staff.
Pearl will be allowed to coach the nonconference meeting with No. 4 Connecticut on Jan. 22 and during Tennessee's practices between games but won't coach an SEC contest until Feb. 8 at Kentucky.