Williams scores 19 in Vols fourth straight win

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Grant Williams overcame early foul trouble to score 19 points, and Tennessee beat Lipscomb 81-71 Saturday in the Volunteers’ first game as a ranked team since December 2010.

Tennessee entered the AP Top 25 this week for the first time in seven years and celebrated by winning its fourth straight. The Vols (7-1) have worked their way into the rankings with a fast start that includes a road win at Georgia Tech and neutral-site victories over Purdue and North Carolina State.

Admiral Schofield scored 13 points, James Daniel III had 12 and Chris Darrington added 11 for Tennessee.

Garrison Mathews had 19 of his 22 points in the second half for Lipscomb (6-4). Eli Pepper added 10 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out. Kenny Cooper had 11 points and seven assists, and Michael Buckland scored 10.

When these teams met in Knoxville last year, Lipscomb led by as many as 15 in the first half and was tied with 12 { minutes left before Tennessee pulled away for a 92-77 victory.

The Vols didn’t need to worry about coming back this time. Lipscomb scored the game’s first basket, but Tennessee got the next five points and never trailed again.

Tennessee capitalized on its depth to withstand Williams’ foul trouble. Williams, the Vols’ leading scorer, played just 10 minutes and had just four points in the first half.

Williams sat out the last 6 { minutes of the first half after picking up two fouls, but Tennessee extended its advantage while he was on the bench and led 40-27 at halftime.

Lipscomb rallied thanks to Mathews, who hadn’t made a single basket in the first half. The Atlantic Sun’s leading scorer heated up after halftime and made a three-point play that cut Tennessee’s lead to 50-47 with 11:20 left.

The score was still 50-47 when Mathews missed a driving layup attempt with less than 11 minutes remaining. With the score 52-47, Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander got a technical foul after Williams blocked an Eli Pepper shot.

Those plays sparked an 11-3 Tennessee run that put the Vols back ahead by double digits. Tennessee’s lead wouldn’t drop below seven the rest of the way.