Today on the Dunaway and Brown Radio Experience, I had a conversation that proved true tonight. I asked the question, do you have to have step out stars to be successful in the SEC? Ryan said yes, I said no, example: Tennessee. This is a team that has no players listed in any of the SEC top ten lists when it comes to scoring, rebounding, free throws, you know the important stuff. But this is the same team that is ranked #6 in the Associated Press, and #7 in the ESPN coaches poll. Tonight, that same team impressed the hell out of me.
I really felt like that the ten point margin that the Vols were favored by was very generous. It scared me. Then the game started and it scared me even more. First off how does a forward in Tyler Smith get the opening tip over a 6'11" center in Ogilvy? But that turned out to be foreshadowing for the night to come for the Aussie that has busted out of the gates for the Dores. Tennessee finally took the lead 13-12 and never trailed again. The lead grew to as many as twenty-four and got as small as eight with about eight minutes to go in the game. But to be hones there were only a couple of times that it felt like the Dores were even in the same building. With three minutes to go and the Vols up by 11 it seemed as though Stallings had already conceited defeat.
These were the leading scoring teams in the SEC and combined they produced only six players in double figures. Tennessee had four in double figures including Wayne Chism who was only a couple of points away from a career high had 18. He did have a career high 18 rebounds. That eighteen was a highlight. A big one. He picked up his third foul early in the first half. To get the boards with fouls against the leagues best in Ogilvy and Metcalf, he made a great statement about his progression. Also in double figures was Tyler Smith with 14 pts and 10 rebs, JuJuan Smith with 14 pts and 7 rebs, and Chris Lofton who did not score in the first half, who ended up with 11 pts. Vanderbilts two leading scorers were who you expected them to be. Ogilvy with 12pts and an embarrassing 5 rebs, and Shan Foster with 14 pts and the same 5 rebs.
After struggling with a feisty Ole Miss Rebel team, and now handing Vandy its second straight SEC loss, UT sits alone atop the SEC East. One could argue this win puts the Vols on top of the league as a whole. Heading into a revenge game against a different Ohio State team, the Orange are riding a wave of momentum. It is their tenth straight win, and seem to go into the game Saturday on just one days rest, but after what seemed to be an easy victory against a bitter rival, Advantage Tennessee Volunteers. Maybe now some eyes will be upon us Saturday for a CBS headline game. Especially some AP voters that could possibly break the Vols into the top five. A position that after tonight, I think is well deserved.