Shaky Tennessee pulls away from LSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The stench from this one may resonate for a while.

For Tennessee’s sake, “a while” had better not last longer than 24 hours.

There’s no other way to describe Tennessee’s 59-49 victory over LSU on Thursday as anything other than a real stinkeroo. Up next for the No. 13-ranked Vols on Friday is an Ole Miss team fighting for its NCAA tournament life.

If not for their defense, the Vols (24-7) would have been in real trouble against the Tigers. They were 4-of-23 from 3-point range and finished with 17 turnovers and six assists in the kind of performance that was anything but befitting of a high seed in the NCAA tournament.

At one point in the second half, somebody turned around on press row and said, “One of these teams is going to the NCAA tournament. Can you tell which one?”

The Tigers (11-20) just couldn’t make enough shots to stage a serious run at the Vols in the final minutes.

Tennessee struggled against LSU’s zone defense, although senior center Wayne Chism was able to maneuver his way for 17 points and 10 rebounds. Junior big man Brian Williams continues to play well for the Vols since returning from his suspension. He yanked down a game-high 14 rebounds.

One of the biggest concerns for the Vols is sophomore Scotty Hopson. He’d played well down the stretch in the regular season after drifting in and out of games the first part of the season. But he was a complete no-show Thursday and had no energy about him in an 0-for-8 performance from the field.