Smith leads late charge as Vols run past BulldogsJan 10, 2009 - 9:56 PM ATHENS, Georgia (Ticker) -- With his teammates in foul trouble, Tyler Smith stepped up for 25th-ranked Tennessee.
Smith scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists, as the Volunteers pulled away late for an 86-77 victory over Georgia on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Bobby Maze scored 16 points and freshman Cameron Tatum added 13 for Tennessee (10-4, 1-0 SEC East), which had five players in double figures.
Wayne Chism netted 12 points and J.P. Prince finished with 10 for Tennessee, which improved to 4-0 in SEC openers under Bruce Pearl.
It was far from easy, though, especially with Chism and Prince - two of the Volunteers' best players - saddled with four fouls for most of the second half.
"It was a very hard fought game," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "A lot of good things happened, although the rebounding continued to be a weak spot. Honestly, we just did not quite finish. We didn't finish the deal."
Tennessee trailed for most of the second half until Smith, Tatum and Maze helped the Volunteers close on a 19-7 run.
Georgia led, 70-67, but Maze hit a free throw and Tatum's 3-pointer tied the game at 71-71 with 5:01 left. It was all Tennessee from that point on.
Smith gave the Volunteers their first lead since early in the first half when he followed his own missed 3-pointer and drove in for a layup to make it 73-72 with 4:27 remaining.
Chism and Tatum each hit layups and Smith's free throws stretched the lead to 79-74 with just over two minutes to play.
Tatum's lay-in with 1:10 remaining made it 81-74 and all but sealed the win.
The Bulldogs were held scoreless for the final three minutes.
"Down the stretch we had some panicky possessions where we had been doing a very good job of executing, getting what we wanted, having them on their heels, scoring," Felton said.
"We ended up shooting fifty percent in the second half and obviously our offense was pretty good."
Georgia (9-7, 0-1 East) opened the second half on a 22-8 run.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
TENNESSEE (25) 36 50 86
GEORGIA 32 45 77 FINAL
Jan 10 2:14 PM
- NCAA BB
(25) TENNESSEE 36
GEORGIA 32 HALFTIME
Jan 10 12:55 PM
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