KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Grant Williams scored a tiebreaking basket with 54 seconds left Wednesday night as No. 21 Tennessee outlasted Furman 66-61 to snap the Paladins’ five-game winning streak.
Furman (9-4) was seeking its first win over a Southeastern Conference team since a 91-75 home victory over South Carolina on Dec. 21, 2010. The Paladins hadn’t beaten an SEC program in a road game since winning 70-62 at Vanderbilt on Nov. 28, 2006.
In a game that featured 13 ties and 14 lead changes, Williams put Tennessee (8-2) ahead for good as he made a move in the paint and scored to break a 61-all tie.
After the teams exchanged turnovers, Furman’s John Davis III slipped and lost control of the ball while in front of the Furman bench with 22 seconds left. Tennessee’s James Daniel III was fouled and hit one of two free throws to extend Tennesse’s lead to 64-61 with 21.3 seconds remaining.
Furman’s final hope faded away when Devin Sibley missed his driving attempt to cut Tennessee’s lead to one. Daniel made two free throws with 5 seconds left to seal the victory.
Jordan Bowden led the Volunteers with 21 points. Williams had 14 points, while Admiral Schofield provided 12 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Sibley had 22 points for Furman while playing in his hometown of Knoxville.
Tennessee was attempting to bounce back from a 78-73 loss to No. 5 North Carolina in which the Vols led most of the way before allowing nine straight points in the final minute. But the Vols struggled much of the night and couldn’t put the Paladins away until the closing seconds.
The Vols led by as many as 10 points early in the second half, but Furman stormed back behind Sibley. After scoring just three points in the first half, Sibley had Furman’s first 13 points of the second half. Sibley’s hot streak cut Tennessee’s lead to 42-39, and Furman continued its comeback even after he picked up his fourth foul and left the game with 13:10 remaining and sat out nearly 6 minutes.
Furman pulled ahead 47-46 with 10:33 left when Geoff Beans was fouled by Williams while attempting a 3-pointer and made each of his three free throws.
The lead went back and forth from there.
Furman: Although Furman couldn’t pull the upset, the Paladins’ nine nonconference wins match their highest total since the 1954-55 team went 11-5 in nonconference play. This marked Furman’s last game before opening Southern Conference competition.
Tennessee: The Vols benefited from a 47-33 rebounding edge. Tennessee had been outrebounded in five of its last six games.
Furman is at VMI on Dec. 30.
Tennessee is at Wake Forest on Saturday.
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