Tennessee 73, Mississippi 60

Earlier in the season, a big deficit might have spelled disaster

for Tennessee. Now that the Volunteers have had a chance to absorb

coach Cuonzo Martin’s unflappable attitude, it’s nothing more than

a challenge to overcome.

Tennessee fought back from a 13-point deficit to beat

Mississippi 73-60 on Wednesday night to hang on to a share of

fourth place in the Southeastern Conference with three games left

in the regular season.

”I think we’re very poised,” Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon

said. ”We try to be just like our coach out there on the floor.

His demeanor never changes, whether we win or lose or whether we’re

up or down. We just try to be like him.”

After a slow start by the Vols (15-13, 7-6), Maymon had little

trouble channeling Martin, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11

rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.

Tennessee started the second half down 31-30. Layups by Maymon

and Trae Golden and a 3 by Cameron Tatum early in the second half

added up to a 7-0 run that gave Tennessee its ultimate lead.

Jordan McRae came off the bench to add 16 points, including a

highlight-worthy dunk that gave Tennessee a 47-37 lead with 11:20

to play. Demarco Cox answered with a layup at the other end, but

the Rebels (15-12, 5-8) wouldn’t get any closer.

”We just settled down and made plays,” Martin said. ”It’s

just one of those things we consistently work at and continue to

get better at every day. I thought we did a good job in the second

half of defending as a team with them passing, cutting and

moving.”

Golden scored 11 points and Tatum and Dwight Miller both added

10 for the Vols, who committed just 10 total fouls and went 17 for

21 from the free-throw line in the second half alone. The Rebels

shot 7 for 12 from the line for the whole game.

Ole Miss and Tennessee entered the game first and second

respectively in rebounding in SEC play, but the Volunteers

outrebounded the Rebels 40-28 and outscored them in the paint

36-28.

”They just dominated us block to block,” Mississippi coach

Andy Kennedy said. ”They killed us on the glass, which has become

a reoccurring theme. They finish everything at point-blank range.

We didn’t play through contact as strong as we needed to. They

outscore us by 11 points on the free throw line, and hence the

difference in the game.”

Terrance Henry had 15 points to lead the Rebels, who have lost

three in a row. Murphy Holloway scored 13 before fouling out of the

game with 3:28 to play, and Nick Williams added 11 points.

The Vols struggled early against Mississippi’s zone defense and

hit just one of their first eight shots. The Rebels hit seven of

their first eight during the stretch to grab a 15-2 lead with 13:51

before halftime before cooling off.

Tennessee started attacking the paint more and answered with a

19-2 run that gave it a 21-17 lead with 6:07 in the first half.

Seven of those points came from Miller, who only recently found

himself back in the Volunteers’ rotation with the indefinite

suspension of Kenny Hall on Feb. 15.

Entering the game, Tennessee and Ole Miss were among six teams

either tied or separated by one game in the fourth through nine

slots in the conference standings. The Vols moved into a tie with

LSU for fourth, while the Rebels dropped to ninth.

With the elimination of divisions in the SEC this year, the top

four teams at the end of the regular season will receive a

first-round bye in the SEC tournament.

”I’m looking at us just trying to get a win at home,” Henry

said. ”We are just going to try and stop the bleeding.”