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Balanced Gonzaga shoots past Tennessee in Old Spice Classic

Dec 1, 2008 - 5:21 AM LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (Ticker) -- Steven Gray scored 19 points off the bench and Matt Bouldin added 17 as No. 10 Gonzaga won the Old Spice Classic championship on Sunday, posting an 83-74 victory over 12th-ranked Tennessee.

Josh Heytvelt scored 15 points for the Bulldogs (5-0), who had five players in double figures.

"Great win, great weekend for us," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We had to dig out three hard-earned wins against three tough opponents. I thought our guys had a lot of heart and character."

Expected to be at a disadvantage in bench play against the deeper - but younger - Volunteers, the Bulldogs got a huge lift from Gray, who made four of Gonzaga's 11 3-pointers. The Bulldogs shot 52 percent (27-of-52) from the floor overall.

Trailing by four at the break, Tennessee (5-1) tried to keep the game close but had trouble stopping Gonzaga, which made seven of its first eight shots to open the second half. Jeremy Pargo scored six points during a quick spurt that gave the Bulldogs a 55-48 lead with 12:52 remaining.

Pargo had 10 points and seven assists and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"He's one of the premier guards of the country," Few said. "He knows he doesn't need to score to quarterback this club. He did that by handling the pressure, getting other guys wide open shots. He scores when he needed to score."

Gray made a 3-pointer during a 7-0 run as Gonzaga opened up its largest lead at that point, 64-52, with 9:01 left to play.

The Bulldogs extended the advantage to 74-56 with just over five minutes to play before the Volunteers furiously cut the deficit to 77-71 with 1:37 remaining. Tennessee could not get any closer as it missed five straight shots from the arc.

Tennessee held a big advantage in rebounding (44-25), but shot 36 percent (27-of-76) from the field.

Gonzaga had a lead early in the contest but Tennessee went on an 8-0 run - five coming from Tyler Smith - to take a 28-24 advantage with 5:09 left in the half.

The Bulldogs finished the session strong and Gray's third 3-pointer of the opening 20 minutes gave Gonzaga a 35-31 edge at the break.

"It doesn't matter to him whether he starts or comes off the bench," Few said of Gray, who had seven 3-pointers in Gonzaga's first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament last season. "I think we've all been kind of waiting for him to do something like this, and sure enough he did."

Smith scored 17 points and freshman Scotty Hopson added 16 to lead Tennessee.