Volunteers get first win without Pearl

Tobias Harris hit a layup and a pair of free throws in the final 1:09 as Tennessee erased a 17-point deficit to beat Vanderbilt 67-64 on Saturday.

After Harris’ layup with 1:09 left and a timeout, John Jenkins stepped out of bounds before crossing halfcourt with 44 seconds left. Melvin Goins missed two shots for the Vols, and Brad Tinsley fouled Brian Williams with 2.7 seconds left as he grabbed the rebound.

Instead of letting Tennessee take the ball in bounds, Rod Odom fouled Tobias Harris, sending him to the line for one-and-one. Harris hit both shots, and Williams stole the ball as Tinsley threw it in bound and the clock ran out.

The victory over Vanderbilt was the first win for Tennessee associate head coach Tony Jones, who is filling in for coach Bruce Pearl while the head coach serves an eight-game Southeastern Conference suspension for lying to NCAA investigators during an ongoing probe into recruiting.

It was the second time this season the Commodores watched a solid lead unravel. In an 83-75 overtime loss to South Carolina on Jan. 8, the Dores led by 11 points with 8:42 in the second half when the Gamecocks went on a 20-9 run to close out regulation.

The Volunteers appeared to fall apart midway through the first half when Goins stole the ball and dished it to an unguarded Scotty Hopson, who missed the open fast-break dunk. On the Vols’ next possession, Cameron Tatum had a basket negated by a charging foul.

Meanwhile, Odom hit a layup at 10:21 in the first half to launch a 12-0 run for Vanderbilt that included back-to-back 3-pointers from John Jenkins and Brad Tinsley. Jeffery Taylor stole the ball from Trae Golden and hit an open fast-break dunk with 7:33 before halftime to give the Dores an 18-8 lead.

Vanderbilt pushed the first-half margin to 17 points on a free throw by Tinsley with 2:03 before halftime, but Tennessee put together a modest 7-0 run to close the half and cut the halftime margin to 30-20 in favor of the Dores.

Tennessee (11-6, 1-2 SEC) shot a mere 20 percent in the first half compared to Vanderbilt’s 37.9 percent shooting. The Commodores had 12 points off Tennessee’s nine turnovers, while the Vols only had three points on the Dores’ 11 giveaways.

Tennessee buckled down on defense after halftime and started getting the transition and paint points that eluded it in the first half. Scotty Hopson scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points after the break.

The Vols used 48.7 percent shooting after the break to slowly chip away at the Commodores’ lead, and a 3-pointer by Cameron Tatum with 3:03 to go gave them their first lead of the second half. Harris finished with 15 points, Tatum had 12 and Skylar McBee had 10.

Jenkins led the Commodores (12-4, 1-2) with 21 points, Jeffery Taylor had 14 and Tinsley 12.

Tennessee started the SEC season with a three-point loss at Arkansas and an overtime loss to Florida. The Vols never have lost three conference games in a row.