NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Uros Plavsic's short jumper with 55 seconds left broke a tie at 60, and 24th-ranked Tennessee scored the final eight points holding off in-state rival Vanderbilt 68-60 Tuesday night for the Vols' ninth straight win in this series.
None of the Vols on the current roster have lost at Memorial Gym. Tennessee (12-5, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) wound up winning its 11th in 12 games with its sixth straight inside the SEC's oldest basketball gym.
Coach Rick Barnes called Plavsic's rebound and putback a “big-time play” with the game tied and said he was proud of how his Vols finished the game.
“They showed the grit that we needed,” Barnes said. “It was a total team win, and I thought our defense was really good from start to finish against a team, they run terrific offense. They do a lot of really good things and the fact we were able to defend them.”
Santiago Vescovi led Tennessee with 14 points. Plavsic and Kennedy Chandler each added 13. Zakai Seigler had 11. Plavsic said the Vols, routed last weekend on the road by Kentucky, just wanted to play hard.
“It's a big game for us, in-state rival,” the 7-foot Serbian said. “You want to win all of those games.”
Vanderbilt (10-7 2-3) has yet to win a SEC game at home despite being 2-0 on the road in league play. Coach Jerry Stackhouse now is 0-5 against Tennessee.
“We’re disappointed obviously,” Stackhouse said. “Thought we did some good things on the defensive end, just careless turnovers and second-chance points, things we talked about coming into this game.”
Scotty Pippen Jr., who came in tied as the SEC's leading scorer, led the Commodores with 18 points. Jordan Wright added 15, and Trey Thomas had 12.
This was a tight game with 10 ties and 17 lead changes. Vanderbilt last led 44-43 near the midway point of the second half on a long 3 by Thomas. Tennessee was up 60-52 when the Commodores reeled off eight straight points. Pippen's 3 tied it up with 1:22 left.
Plavsic's jumper put Tennessee ahead to stay. Then Zeigler stole Jamaine Mann’s inbound pass and hit two free throws. Vescovi and Ziegler added two free throws apiece for the final margin as Vanderbilt didn't score again.
Tennessee led 33-32 at intermission after the Vols forced a flurry of late turnovers, but Plavsic fouled Pippen on a last-gasp try. Pippen hit two of three free throws for the halftime margin.
Tennessee: Starting guard Josiah-Jordan James played four minutes with one rebound and one assist before going to the bench with an unspecified injury. He didn't return. ... John Fulkerson, held without a point or a rebound in the Vols' ugly loss at Kentucky, had two points and six rebounds coming off the bench. ... The Vols came in eighth nationally in steals and forced 21 turnovers with 14 steals. They scored 19 points off those turnovers. ... The Vols went 25 of 29 at the line, including 18 of 20 in the second half.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores scored only nine points off the Vols' turnovers. ... They went 6 of 10 at the line in the second half and 10 of 23 overall.
PLAYING IN NASHVILLE
The Vols got to play this game after going home on three of their last five trips to Nashville without playing a game. That includes the 2020 SEC Tournament, a game against Vanderbilt that was postponed last January by the Commodores’ COVID issues and a December game was canceled within 90 minutes of tipoff by Memphis’ COVID issues.
Tennessee hosts No. 13 LSU on Saturday night.
Vanderbilt starts a two-game road swing at Florida on Saturday afternoon.
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