Wiggins makes Vols regret missed chance
Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 7:02 pm
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — College of Charleston senior Antwaine Wiggins grew up in Tennessee and always hoped he could play for the Vols.
“You weren’t good enough,” Wiggins’ coach, Bobby Cremins, joked Wednesday night.
Wiggins was better than good enough for Tennessee in this one, the fifth-year senior matching his career high of 24 points in the Cougars’ 71-65 victory over Tennessee.
Wiggins is from Greene-ville, about an hour east of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus. But the 6-foot-7 forward was too skinny and undeveloped to get a serious look from the Southeastern Conference program. Instead, he found a home with Cremins in helping to rebuild Charleston’s basketball reputation.
Wiggins and Cougars (8-1) took another step in that direction with this victory, their second in as many years against the Vols (3-6), who have lost four straight and six of their past seven games.
“This meant a lot,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins showed that in the second half, taking over as Charleston rallied from 13 points down in the first period with a 13-0 run to move in front for good. He finished 10-of-12 from the field and tied the career high in points he set against Samford last February.
Andrew Lawrence added 14 points for the Cougars.
Jordan McRae led Tennessee with 19 points. He hit a 3-pointer with 1:00 left that cut the Charleston lead to 68-65, but the Vols couldn’t get any closer.
Wiggins scored the first two baskets of the second half as the Cougars tightened up their defense and cut Tennessee’s lead to two. Charleston was still trailing 47-43 after Jerome Maymon’s inside bucket when the Cougars began their run.
Lawrence started it with a jumper and Wiggins followed with a steal and lay-in to tie the game. Wiggins made two more baskets and Matt Sundberg a 3-pointer. By the time Lawrence hit a pair of foul shots with 9:28 left, Charleston was out front for good, 56-47.
Cremins was just as happy with sold-out TD Arena as he was with his team’s play. “What a great atmosphere,” he gushed, “what a great win.”
Then again, wins like this are becoming a habit. Two seasons ago, the Cougars took down North Carolina here before defeating the NCAA Tournament-bound Vols, 91-78, in Knoxville last year.
On Nov. 19, Charleston won at Clemson, 72-69, and the Southern Conference member is vying for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1999.
It was Tennessee who came out on fire, Skylar McBee hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to kick off a 19-5 run in the middle of the opening period to build a 28-15 lead.
Published in The Messenger 12.15.11