LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)—Tennessee came at Georgetown in waves.
The No. 12 Volunteers, with Tyler Smith’s 21 points leading four players in double figures, rallied past No. 21 Georgetown 90-78 Friday in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic. The Tennessee bench outscored the Hoyas’ 37-12.
“Our (starting) five are good, but our 10 are what makes us better,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. “We go to the bench and we don’t fall off. That’s what helps in tournament play.”
Pearl will be seeking his 400th career victory in the championship Sunday when the Vols (5-0) play the winner of the game between No. 9 Gonzaga and Maryland.
Chris Wright had 18 points for the Hoyas (3-1), who had five players in double figures. Sub Cameron Tatum hit five of six 3-pointers and finished with 17 points for the Vols, who rallied from a nine-point deficit in the last 10 minutes. The Vols made eight of nine free throws in the final 46 seconds.
“Tyler told me on the bus over, ‘You’d better be ready to shoot,’ ” said Tatum, whose one miss rimmed out. “It was one of those days.”
After his last 3, Tatum ran down the sideline and high-fived one of the Vols’ radio announcers.
“I was feeling it,” Tatum said. “He was the first guy I saw.”
Tennessee had only two players, Smith and guard Bobby Maze, play more than 22 minutes. The Vols bench played 78 of a possible 200 minutes.
“I thought coming down the stretch they executed well, did what they had to do,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “I don’t think depth had anything to do with it.”
The Hoyas committed 20 turnovers, 10 in the first 15 minutes, and trailed 39-37 at halftime.
Said Pearl: “Some of those turnovers they just handed to us because they were tired.”
Georgetown went on a 23-10 run early in the second half to build a 65-57 lead. The Vols, playing a small lineup because of two big men in foul trouble, cut into the lead. Tatum hit a 3 to put Tennessee up 67-66. After J.P. Prince converted a 3-point play, Tatum hit another 3, made a steal and dunk and the Vols were up 75-69.
Georgetown freshman center Greg Monroe played only eight minutes in the first half, scoring six points. He didn’t commit another foul until midway through the half and finished with 15 points, his fourth straight game in double figures. The Vols ran screens trying to draw him into foul trouble and succeeded.
Tennessee center Wayne Chism played only 12 minutes before fouling out with nine points.
Georgetown led the Big East in all four major team defensive categories last year, but struggled to shut down the Vols. Tennessee shot 53 percent and 65 percent from the 3-point line. The Vols weren’t any better, allowing the Hoyas to make 53 percent of their field goals.
“Nobody shoots 53 percent against Georgetown,” Pearl said. “But it was our patience, our leadership. Tyler was out there telling me what to do.”