UT wall capable of stop vs. Siena
Posted: Friday, November 28, 2008 11:08 am
By: By MARK WANGRIN, Associated Press Writer
LAKE BUENA VISTA. Fla. (AP) — Bruce Pearl and Tennessee avoided a potential upset by forcing Siena outside.
His 12th-ranked Vols did just that, stopping what Siena does best —drive the ball — and held off the Saints 78-64 on Thursday in the first round of the Old Spice Classic.
“Our defense, and Siena’s desire to drive the ball to the basket at all costs, meant we had to build a wall,” Pearl said. “That was key. We made them have to beat us from outside.”
Bolivar product Wayne Chism scored 15 points and Renaldo Woolridge and Tyler Smith each added 14 for the Vols (4-0).
Alex Franklin led Siena (2-1) with 17.
Kenny Hasbrouck was held to six points on 1-of-10 shooting during the game.
“When I went to drive the ball, they had someone to cut me off,” Hasbrouck said. “I started missing shots I usually make and got tentative.”
Siena made only 1 of 15 3s and turned the ball over 18 times, one fewer than Tennessee.
The Vols went on a 18-0 run late in the first half and pulled away to a 47-27 halftime lead. Bothered by the Vols’ man pressure defense and inside strength, Siena missed seven shots and turned the ball over seven times during Tennessee’s first half run, including on four straight possessions.
Saints coach Fran McCaffery said that’s where the game was lost.
“When you play a team of this caliber, the focus has to be on staying away from big runs,” he said.
Siena scored the first 11 points of the second half, but could not get closer than nine.
The Vols led by as many as 21 in the second half.
Tennessee, coming off its best season, which included 31 wins and regular-season stay at No. 1, continues to find some answers in replacing half its offense from a year ago.
Defensively, though, they struggled at times.
“Everybody was tight in there, keeping them from penetrating ball,” Chism said after the game. “In the second half we lost focus. Toward the end we picked it up and made them turn the ball over.”
Tennessee continued its hot shooting. The Vols, who came into the game hitting 54.2 percent from the field, were 50 percent (29-for-58) for the game, including 6 of 14 3s.
The biggest 3 came from Chism that ended Siena’s run and ignited the Vols in the second half.
“It was a dagger,” Pearl said. “How frustrating is it when you make a run and the other center knocks down an easy 3 ball.”
Said Hasbrouck, “We got tired after that.”
Tennessee will play No. 21 Georgetown in the second round Friday. The Hoyas won 58-50 over Wichita State, which faces Siena next.