Forty-three points and perfect from the free throw line in 23 attempts. Grant Williams' stats against Vanderbilt are not just impressive, but they also proved to be the deciding factor in No. 1 Tennessee’s narrow 88-83 overtime win against unranked Vanderbilt.
Williams' effort helped Tennessee counteract the offensive Commodore trio of Aaron Nesmith, Saben Lee and Matt Ryan who combined for 57 points against the Volunteers.
Sorry to disappoint everybody pic.twitter.com/XvDRb0BKE8— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 24, 2019
Williams finished 23-for-23 from the foul line, one make short of tying the NCAA record for made free throws without a miss (Arlen Clark at Oklahoma in 1959).
The wild game included Tennessee tied with Vanderbilt at the half and then failing to hit the game-winner at the end of regulation.
The last time Tennessee played as the No. 1 team, in the 2007-08 season, the team lost its first game to Vanderbilt. For a few moments on Wednesday night, it looked like a similar outcome could have been repeated.
With less a minute to go in the first overtime, the game remained tied. Then Tennessee pulled ahead by two. Then three. Then four. Then five. And that was game. A grueling, tightly-contested conference match came to an end and Vanderbilt went back to the locker room 0-6 in the SEC.
No. 1 Survives! 😳— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 24, 2019
No. 1 Tennessee narrowly avoids an upset, defeating Vanderbilt in overtime. pic.twitter.com/XQmY8RBcpJ
And Tennessee, thanks to Williams, avoided its first SEC loss of the season and probably held onto that top spot.
Williams scored 10 of Tennessee's 12 points in overtime as the Volunteers improved to 17-1 overall and 6-0 in the SEC.