Second Half Dooms Rebels Against Vols In Nashville
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.
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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