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Chism's big second half lifts Tennessee

Dec 17, 2008 - 7:27 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Wayne Chism scored a career-high 26 points, including 21 in the second half, as No. 19 Tennessee got back on track with an 80-68 victory over No. 23 Marquette in the SEC/Big East Challenge on Tuesday.

Tyler Smith had 14 points and Bobby Maze 10 and six assists for the Volunteers (7-2), who had a successful response in their first game since falling 11 spots in the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll.

A big reason for that drop was an 88-72 loss to Temple on Saturday in which Dionte Christmas scored 35 points for the Owls.

Tennessee saw another player go off Tuesday, as Wesley Matthews netted a career-best 30 points for Marquette (8-2). However, the Golden Eagles were plagued by foul trouble.

Despite falling behind by eight in the second half, Marquette had a chance to steal a win, especially after closing within 70-68 on a 3-pointer by Lazar Hayward with 2:20 remaining.

"At no point in the game and at no point in the season do we ever feel like we're out of a game, with as much firepower we have and how aggressive we are on defense, and with how quickly something can happen," Matthews told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We just buckled down as a team, locked in and said, 'This isn't over with.'"

The Vols answered back with a long strike, as Josh Tabb buried a rare shot from the right corner after his team worked the ball around the perimeter. It was just Tabb's third 3-pointer of the season.

Marquette was off the mark on two shots from the arc on its next possession, and Cameron Tatum was fouled collecting the defensive rebound.

Tatum, who finished with seven points, missed both foul shots, but Chism fought for the offensive board and was fouled. He made 1-of-2 from the line, giving Tennessee a 74-68 lead with 1:36 left.

Chism ended up with four offensive rebounds and 11 boards total in posting his third double-double.

"He's a very, very talented player," Tennessee coach Pearl said of Chism, who has had attitude issues in the past. "Will this be a breakout game for him? I don't know. But we all know he's got the ability. He's not shown consistency. The guys here in Nashville, you've seen him do this against Vanderbilt and then the next time he plays against Vanderbilt, he's not there."

Matthews finished 6-of-12 from the field with four 3-pointers and 15-of-18 at the line for the Golden Eagles, who missed their final five shots of the game.

Already shorthanded by injuries, Marquette saw its foul issues mount in the second half.

Second-leading scorer Jerel McNeal was whistled for his fourth foul on a questionable charging call with 12:47 remaining and the Golden Eagles trailing, 44-41. He would later foul out with 5 1/2 minutes left, ending up with 10 points - seven below his average.

Marquette finished with three players that disqualified and two others with four fouls.

"Any time we get into foul trouble, no matter who the player is, we're out of whack," Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams told the Journal Sentinel. "But we fight, hang in there and it's a two-point game with 2 minutes 22 seconds left."

Despite the big loss, Marquette would grab its final lead at 48-46 when Matthews capped a 7-2 run with a pair of free throws. However, things would continue to fall apart for the Big East power.

Dominic James, who finished with eight points and five assists, was called for a technical with 9:15 to play after teammate Dwight Burke was called for a foul trying to track down an offensive rebound. The 5-11 senior guard was upset after failing to get a call when getting hit on a missed layup moments before.

"I didn't hear it," Williams told the paper about the technical. "I was looking the other way trying to figure out if we were in the bonus or not. So whatever he said, he said it was quick, it was powerful, and it was deserving of a technical, because that's what he called."

Maze converted both technical free throws and Chism added two more due to the foul, highlighting a span where the Vols scored eight straight points from the line to turn a two-point deficit into a 54-48 lead.

Tennessee would continue its path to the stripe, eventually pulling ahead 68-60 when Brian Williams split a pair with 4:27 remaining. Overall, it went 20-of-25 on foul shots for the second half and 26-of-36 for the game.

Chism connected on his only 3-pointer of the game moments earlier, going on to shoot 6-of-7 from the field in the second half.

The only Southeastern Conference team ranked, the Vols benefited from the supposedly neutral court, drawing in thousands of fans that witnessed Pearl improve to 6-1 at the Sommet Center.