| KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Thaydeus Holden
scored 17 points, making all five 3-pointers he attempted,
and Jon Higgins hit a key 3 down the stretch as Tennessee
beat Vanderbilt 71-66 Saturday night.
The Volunteers (9-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) were
ahead by seven before the Commodores (8-7, 1-3) rallied
to tie it with 3:06 remaining.
Higgins stopped the rally with a 3 that gave Tennessee
the lead for good. The Vols pushed the lead to six after
Brandon Crump's dunk, but Holden fouled out by committing
a technical foul after the play.
Corey Smith made both free throws on the technical
to pull Vanderbilt within 65-61 with 1:24 to go.
But the Commodores' Matt Freije missed a 3 and Crump
got a steal on Vanderbilt's next possession. C.J. Watson
made a pair of free throws with 34.8 seconds left to
put Tennessee up 68-61.
Ron Slay finished with 14 points for Tennessee, while
Higgins had 12 and Crump and Watson added 11 apiece.
The Vols outrebounded Vanderbilt 31-22 and shot 53
percent from the field for the game.
Freije, who came in averaging 16.4 points a game, didn't
make a shot until the opening minute of the second half.
He finished with 18 and his outside shooting helped
keep Vanderbilt in the game.
Smith also had 18 points for the Commodores, and Brian
Thornton added 16.
After leading 30-25 at halftime, the Vols didn't let
Vanderbilt grab the lead. The Commodores tied it three
ties early, but Holden made consecutive 3-pointers from
the same corner to push Tennessee's lead back to six.
On the first, Slay got the steal, dribbled down the
court, passed the ball around his back to Holden, waiting
in the corner.
Vanderbilt missed on their ensuing possession, and
Holden got the ball again and gave Tennessee a 43-37
lead with 13:40 to go.
Smith responded with a 3 for the Commodores, but it
was Holden again at the other end, sinking a 3 from
the other corner.
Vanderbilt led by as many as three in the first half
until Holden hit a 3-pointer, Higgins made a basket
and Holden followed with another 3 to put Tennessee
ahead 28-23 with 3:17 to go before halftime.
The Vols held the lead at halftime, despite 15 turnovers.
They were buoyed by shooting 52 percent from the field,
while Vanderbilt shot only 40 percent.