Nashville, TN – Player of the Year candidate Grant Williams posted one of the dominant performances in program history to lift No. 1 Tennessee Vols to a 88-83 victory in overtime against Vanderbilt in Memorial Gym on Wednesday night.
Williams finished with a career-high 43 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, two assists and a key steal to carry the Vols (17-1, 6-0 SEC) to their 13th-consecutive win. It was the most points scored in a game by a Vol since Allan Houston also dropped 43 against LSU on February 10th, 1990. It was tied for the fifth-most points in a single game in school history.
The junior forward was 10-of-15 from the field and a program-best 23-of-23 from the charity stripe. That mark broke the Tennessee Vols record for most free throws in a game and consecutive free throws in a single game, surpassing Bill Justus’ 22 made and 18 consecutive free throws vs. Ohio on March 17th, 1969.
Tennessee rallied late in the second half, going on a 6-0 run during the final 1:22 of play. A jumper in the lane by Admiral Schofield with 38 seconds left tied things up at 76-76. UT got the final shot off with 3.3 seconds left, but it was blocked to send the game to overtime.
Williams was 8-of-10 from the field and 19-of-19 from the free-throw line for 38 points in the second half and overtime. He had 10 of UT’s 12 points in OT to outscore the Commodores (9-9, 0-6 SEC).
The other two points came from a pair of free throws by Jordan Bone with five seconds remaining to put the game away. He finished with 14 points and seven assists in the outing.
Vanderbilt had the hot hand in the second half, shooting a 51-percent clip from the floor and 67 percent from beyond the arc. On several occasions, UT held the Commodores to a shot with less than five seconds on the shot clock, but VU was able to convert.
In overtime, Tennessee’s defense locked down the Dores, holding Vanderbilt to 2-of-8 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 from three. A pair of 20-point performers in Aaron Nesmith (24) and Saben Lee (21) led VU’s offense.
Vanderbilt wasn’t phased by the early deficit, fighting back to make it a 3-point game at the 10:29 mark. A 9-0 run in the final minutes of the half capped off the Commodores’ comeback, giving them their first lead of the game. UT quickly responded with a step-back 3-pointer by Jordan Bowden to quiet the crowd and give the Vols a 38-37 lead going into halftime.
Both teams shot 50 percent or better from the field, with VU holding a 22-14 advantage in the paint to erase the early 13-point deficit. Tennessee’s offense was sparked by five threes in the frame.