Smith, Williams help Tennessee hold off Western KentuckyDec 16, 2007 - 6:49 AM NASHVILLE (Ticker) -- Tennessee got a scare but survived against Western Kentucky.
JaJuan Smith scored 19 points and freshman Brian Williams posted season highs with 16 points and 14 rebounds as the 11th-ranked Volunteers held off the feisty Hilltoppers, 88-82, on Saturday.
Tennessee (9-1) couldn't put away Western Kentucky, as it led by as many as 12 in the second half before the Hilltoppers responded.
After trailing by six points at the break, the Hilltoppers started the second half strong and took a 52-51 lead on Mike Walker's layup with 15:42 to play.
Tennessee regained control when Chris Lofton and Smith combined for 10 points on a 13-0 spurt that gave the Volunteers a 66-54 lead with 11:44 left.
Western Kentucky (7-3) came back to cut the deficit to 71-66 on a pair of free throws by A.J. Slaughter with under nine minutes remaining before Lofton made a 3-pointer that pushed Tennessee's lead back up to 10 with 7:43 to play.
However, the Hilltoppers again refused to go away, and Steffphon Pettigrew's layup capped an 8-1 spurt and cut Western Kentucky's deficit to 79-78 with 3:28 remaining. But Pettigrew could not convert the three-point play as he missed the free throw that would have tied the game.
Williams answered for Tennessee, scoring Tennessee's next six points as the Volunteers led, 85-80, with 1:25 to play and held on at the finish.
"I'm unbelievably proud of my guys, and the toughness and character they showed and played with," Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn said. "We overcame a lot of foul trouble and didn't let Tennessee make too many of those runs that they are famous for."
Tyler Smith had 16 points and Lofton finished with 14 for the Volunteers, who have won four straight games. The two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Lofton missed his first five 3-point attempts and finished the game 4-of-12 from the arc.
Tennessee went on an 8-0 run to take an early 18-9 advantage with 13:32 to play in the first half. The Hilltoppers battled back to cut the deficit to 22-21 on Tyrone Brazelton's layup before Tyler Smith scored five points on an 11-2 spurt to take a 10-point lead with just over five minutes left in the half.
Western Kentucky cut the deficit to three with under three minutes to play in the half, but Tennessee held a 44-38 lead at the break. JaJuan Smith scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting to lead the Volunteers in the first half.
Courtney Lee scored 23 points and had eight rebounds to lead Western Kentucky, which made just 5-of-16 shots from the arc for the game.
"If you had told me before the game that we would win the rebounding battle, hold them to 41 percent shooting and commit close to a season low in turnovers, I would have told you that we would have won the game," Horn said.
- SUN BELT CLASSIC
NCAA BB SUN BELT CLASSIC
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
TENNESSEE (11) 44 44 88
WKU 38 44 82 FINAL
Dec 15 11:46 PM
- SUN BELT CLASSIC
NCAA BB (11) TENNESSEE 44
WKU 38 HALFTIME
Dec 15 10:28 PM
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