KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee completed its first season sweep over Vanderbilt in five years on Tuesday night, but not before some last-minute drama.
The No. 22-ranked Vols (14-5, 5-3 SEC) held off a furious rally, winning 67-62 to deny the Commodores (7-13, 2-6) their bid to win four straight games in Knoxville for what would have been the first time in the 96-year series history.
Jordan Bowden led Tennessee with 19 points including 5-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Grant Williams, who scored a career-high 37 points in the teams’ first meeting this season — a 92-84 Tennessee win on Jan. 9 — had 18 points, going 12 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Tennessee led by as many as 20 points, 41-21, with 14:28 left. The Vols were up 46-28 on a Bowden trey with 12:05 left when Riley LaChance heated up for the Commodores.
LaChance (25 points) hit four straight 3-pointers to spark a 19-5 run as Vandy closed to 51-47 with 7:02 left before Rick Barnes called for a timeout.
Another LaChance jumper with 4:40 left cut the lead to four, and then LaChance hit a step-back fadeaway with 2:03 left to pull Vandy to 59-57.
Tennessee didn’t put the game away until Lamonte Turner hit a 3-pointer with a minute left to extend the Vols lead to five points, igniting the crowd of 14,127.
The fans stayed on their feet after a Vandy missed 3-pointer and Bowden scored in transition to make it 65-58.
Tennessee led 32-15 at the half, closing with a 14-2 run fueled by Bowden’s 3-point shooting and 11 points in the first half.
It was the fewest points the Commodores scored in a first half this season.
Vanderbilt double-teamed Williams early and often, but the Vols’ sophomore power forward proved adept at passing the ball to the open man, often times finding Bowden open on the perimeter.
Tennessee went more than seven minutes between field goals during Vanderbilt’s rally. Admiral Schofield hit a jumper with 10:36 left that made it 48-34, and the Vols didn’t get another field goal until Schofield scored at the rim with 3:29 remaining to give Tennessee a 57-51 lead.
Bowden breaks slump
Bowden entered Tuesday night with just four made 3s in seven SEC games (4-of-16, 25 percent), but the sophomore shooting guard from Knoxville had three triples by halftime en route to 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting including 5-of-7 beyond the arc.
Ice, Ice, Vandy
The Commodores opened the game hitting a 3-pointer but went ice cold from beyond the 3-point line after that. Vanderbilt missing 17 straight treys before their second make (Riley LaChance) wth 11:35 left to pull to within 46-31. LaChance, it’s worth noting, hit four straight 3-pointers in igniting a comeback.