Knoxville, Tenn. -- No. 20 Tennessee scored the final five points over the last 54 seconds to edge Furman in the Paladins' non-conference finale before a crowd of 13,095 on Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.
In a contest that included 14 lead changes and 13 ties, Furman knotted the score at 61-61 on a driving layup with 2:02 to play. After the Paladins and Vols traded defensive stops, Grant Williams scored in the post with 54 second left to give Tennessee a two point lead. Furman turned the ball over before John Davis III regained possession for the Paladins with a steal in the front court. Before Davis could get Furman into its offense, he slipped and turned the ball over to the Vols with under 30 seconds to play.
Furman (9-4) fouled James Daniel, who stepped to the foul line and connected on 1-of-2 free throws to up the margin to 64-61. Devin Sibley's layup attempt with 14 seconds left was blocked by Williams and Tennessee converted a pair of free throws to seal the game.
Jordan Bowden paced the Vols with 21 points, while Williams scored 14 and Admiral Schofield posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. The Vols managed a 47-33 edge on the glass and outscored the Paladins 15-8 at the foul line.
Sibley, playing in his hometown, poured in a game-high 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting and pulled down a team-best seven rebounds for the Paladins. Furman held Tennessee to 37% shooting and committed just 10 turnovers.
"That one hurts," said Furman head coach Bob Richey. "It was fun to see the belief in our guys. Being in the huddle with them down the stretch, you could see it in their eyes that they really thought we were going to win the game. We failed to finish on the free-throw block-out, which was a crucial play. We had a bad execution down here late where we had drawn up a play that we've run the last two weeks in practice. That's what happens in games like this. It can come down to one possession, but I'm proud of our effort and fight."
Tennessee (8-2) led 29-26 at the break and extended its advantage to 38-28 in the opening three minutes of the second half. With the Vols leading 42-32, Sibley, who scored Furman's first 13 points of the second half, ignited a 15-4 Paladin run with a three-pointer at the 15:08 mark. He scored on consecutive drives to the basket before Clay Mounce answered a Tennessee trey with a putback. Geoff Beans drained a three and converted three consecutive free throws with 10:33 to play to give the Paladins a 47-46 lead.
After six lead changes, Furman stretched its cushion to four points, but a three minute drought allowed Tennessee to take the lead at 61-59 with 2:24 left on a Schofield basket.
Furman opens Southern Conference play on Saturday, December 30, at 2 p.m. when it travels to Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va., to take on VMI.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information