Collins Carries Kansas Past Tennessee
Jan. 3, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -Sherron Collins had 26 points and nine assists, and Cole Aldrich had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help Kansas knock off No. 14 Tennessee 92-85 Saturday.
Needing a win against a big-name school, Kansas (10-3) fed off the energy of a rowdy crowd to build an early 16-point lead, then held off the Vols down the stretch for its 32nd straight win at Allen Fieldhouse.
After a series of missteps against bigger schools, the young Jayhawks held their composure against Tennessee's defensive pressure, pulling out the kind of win that should look good come NCAA tournament time.
Poor shot selection and defensive breakdowns put Tennessee (9-3) in a big hole early and the Vols never recovered, ending their three-game winning streak. It doesn't get any easier, either: The Vols face No. 16 Gonzaga on Wednesday, their final game before starting Southeastern Conference play.
Tyler Smith led the Vols with 21 points and Wayne Chism, back after a scary fall in his last game, had 17 points and six blocked shots while playing with a bruised spine and elbow.
Allen Fieldhouse is already one the nation's loudest arenas and the atmosphere was more like a Metallica concert than a college basketball game for the first meeting between these two powerhouses.
Tennessee seemed rattled by the raucous atmosphere early on, putting up quick shots on offense, getting beat off the dribble and on backdoor cuts at the other end.
Coach Bruce Pearl called two timeouts in the first 4 1/2 minutes - after plenty of stomping and red-faced screaming - and it still couldn't seem to calm the Vols down. Kansas followed with a 10-0 run, going up 25-9 on Brady Morningstar's 3-pointer from the top of the circle.
Tennessee finally started to settle down late in the first half, using its defensive pressure to whittle the lead to 40-31 by halftime. The Vols never made it back, though.
The Jayhawks answered every run with one of their own, the final one coming after Tennessee pulled within 77-70 with 4 minutes left.
Collins and Aldrich had a lot to do with it.
Aldrich was all over the court, hitting straightaway jumpers, flying in for dunks on alley-oops and fast breaks, swatting shots into the stands. He keyed the final Jayhawks run, getting a pair of two-handed slams that put Kansas up 83-72 with just over two minutes left. Aldrich finished 10-of-14 from the floor and blocked six shots.
After taking just five shots in his last game, Collins was far more aggressive against the Vols, repeatedly beating them off the dribble to get to the rim or dish to teammates for easy layups and jumpers. He shot 7-of-14 and added five rebounds.