Second Half Dooms Rebels Against Vols In Nashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Ole Miss could not maintain its halftime lead, as No. 13 Tennessee used a second-half surge to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals with a 76-65 win Friday at Bridgestone Arena.

Chris Warren posted a team-high 16 points, Zach Graham scored 15 and Terrico White 13.

Wayne Chism had 16 points and 15 rebounds to lead Tennessee, and J.P. Prince added 17 points for Tennessee (25-7), which is 7-0 this season when Chism gets a double-double.

The Vols' win sets up a Saturday rematch with their most bitter rival, No. 2 Kentucky, which overcame an 11-point deficit to beat Alabama 73-67 earlier Friday.

With the teams tied at 44, Tennessee went on a 9-0 run punctuated by a jump shot by Tatum to take a 53-44 lead with 13:21 left.

Ole Miss (21-10) answered with back-to-back 3s by Warren from opposite sides of the baseline and a free throw by Trevor Gaskins - to trim the Vols' lead to 2.

Tennessee used free throws and paint points to pull away as the Rebels went 5 minutes without hitting a field goal.

Coming off a four-game winning streak and a first-round tournament bye, Ole Miss was playing to improve its credentials in hopes of earning an NCAA tournament bid. The Rebels had a quality win over Kansas State early in the season, but wanted another resume-boosting win.

The Vols, who have stayed in the Top 25 all season and logged wins over then-No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Kentucky, are playing to improve their seeding in the NCAA tournament.

Both teams looked the part of an NCAA contender early. Tennessee hit 7 of 15 3-point shots before halftime - the Vols only had five 2-point baskets - and Ole Miss hit its first six 3s.

A 3-pointer by Graham gave the Rebels an 18-12 lead with 13:05 left in the first half.

Tatum, who hit all four of his shots from 3 in the first half, hit back-to-back 3s from opposite wings followed by a free throw to grab a 24-22 lead for the Vols with 9:29 before halftime.

The teams traded the lead twice more before an 8-0 run by Tennessee that ended with a fastbreak layup by Prince that gave Tennessee a 34-31 lead with 2:26 left in the first half. White hit a layup and tipped in a shot, and the Rebels entered halftime with a 35-34 lead.

Warren was hot from the perimeter, hitting 5 of 12 from behind the arc, but the point guard committed nine turnovers, and Tennessee scored 20 points off the Rebels' mistakes.

It was the same story in the teams' regular-season meeting on Jan. 16, which Tennessee won 71-69 in overtime.


 

 

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