KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee used a late run down the stretch Tuesday to survive 65-61 over visiting Vanderbilt at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Commodores (9-17, 1-12 SEC) led for nearly nine minutes and trailed just 49-48 with 7:20 to play. But the Volunteers (15-11, 7-6 SEC) scored 12 in a row to virtually put the game away in the waning moments.
Freshman Jordan Wright scored a career high 23 points for the Commodores while junior Saben Lee added 18. Freshman Dylan Disu chipped in 11.
Vanderbilt returns home at 5 p.m. Saturday to welcome Georgia (12-13, 2-10 SEC).
Tennessee jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the early goings, but Wright and Disu hit back-to-back 3s, respectively, cutting the deficit to 9-8. The Volunteers pulled away for a bit to get up 17-12 – then the Dores made a run.
Braelee Albert hit a left-corner 3 then Wright scored five straight to complete a 10-0 run that put Vandy up 22-17. That would be the Commodores’ largest lead before the Volunteers would come back to tie the score at 28-all at the buzzer.
Wright set a career high in points with 14 in the first half alone and Vanderbilt overcame a slow start from the field getting 17 points off the bench.
Tennessee surged back ahead 35-31 to start the second half, only to see Vanderbilt answer with a 9-0 run to build a 40-35 margin. Once again the Volunteers came back to take leads of 43-42, 45-43 and 47-45 as the clock ticked under eight minutes to play.
Just before the six-minute mark John Fulkerson finished a alley-oop to make it 53-48 and about a minute later Santiago Vescovi drilled a 3 from the left wing to make it 56-48. That gave the Commodores just five minutes to try to find a comeback.
They didn’t have enough left.
Fulkerson and Jordan Bowden each scored 17 to lead Tennessee.
• Lee (1,193) passed Billy Joe Adcock (1,190) for 36th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list and tied Joe Ford (1,193) for 35th. Jim Henry (1,198) is 34th.
• Vanderbilt now trails the series with rival Tennessee 124-75 and 73-20 in Knoxville. Vandy’s last win at Thompson-Boling Arena came Feb. 22, 2017.
• The next time Vanderbilt and Tennessee play each other will be the 200th time in a series dating back to 1922.
• The Commodores are now 1-2 this season when tied at halftime, 1-15 when trailing with five minutes to play and 0-16 when trailing at the 2-minute mark.
• Vandy is also now 0-12 when scoring fewer than 70 points and 0-13 when shooting less than 40 percent.
• Attendance on Tuesday was announced as 18,562.