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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Detroit News - Tennessee's bigs answer disrespect

Dave Dye's court report
Dave Dye / The Detroit News
Tennessee's bigs answer disrespect

Motivation comes in many forms, but none as powerful at times as perceived disrespect.

Take the way 6-foot-9 sophomore Wayne Chism and the rest of Tennessee's front line approached Saturday's No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown at undefeated Memphis.

"We sat up in that hotel room (Saturday morning) watching those ESPN guys talk about (Joey ) Dorsey and (Robert ) Dozier , (and) saying Tennessee was weak inside," Chism said. "So me and Duke (Crews ) and Brian (Williams ) got together and said, 'Do we want to keep going to games with people saying we're weak inside, but we're saved by our guards?' "

Memphis' Dorsey and Dozier might have gotten the hype going in, but Chism and the Volunteers got the last laugh.

Shockingly, Tennessee outrebounded (50-34) and outscored (36-16) Memphis in the paint. Chism had 14 points and seven rebounds to Dorsey's one point, six rebounds.

As for his big men, Memphis coach John Calipari said, "They tried, but they got outfought."

Whether it was intentional or not, Calipari provided his own source of motivation for Tennessee's 6-7 sixth man J.P. Prince , who is a cousin of Piston Tayshaun Prince .

Calipari, who recruited Prince, had referred to him as "P.J." more than once earlier in the week.

Prince was born and raised in Memphis. He was the Tigers' ballboy when his father, John, was a Memphis assistant.

Prince, however, signed with Arizona instead of Memphis three years ago before transferring in January 2007 to Tennessee.

"Coach Cal was taking his shots," Prince said. "It's like he's never called my house asking for me. That got me fired up. I thank him for that."

Prince, a 46.7-percent free-throw shooter, made both in a one-and-one situation with 8.8 seconds left to give Tennessee a 64-61 lead. He scored 13.

Tennessee, which broke Memphis' streaks of 45 regular-season victories and 47 at home, will move to No. 1 for the first time in school history when the polls are released today.

There's not much time for pats on the back. Vanderbilt, which is 17-0 at home, will be waiting for Tennessee Tuesday night in Nashville, Tenn.

Prediction: Vanderbilt wins.

As for Memphis, well, the perfect season is gone, but that could take some of the pressure off and also help it refocus for March.

"You guys all said we needed to lose one, so we lost one," Calipari said.

Better now than a month from now.

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