KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- How would a short-handed Tennessee deal with top-ranked Kansas? For a half, at least, it's a fair fight.
The Volunteers led by as many as six points in the first half and go into intermission tied at 33. They came into the game with only six scholarship players and stole several minutes in the first half with walk-ons on the floor after J.P. Prince and Wayne Chism each picked up two fouls.
But coach Bruce Pearl gambled by putting Chism back in for the final couple of minutes, and the Vols' best big man got whistled for his third foul while hacking Sherron Collins with 34.6 seconds left. Pearl may regret that move. They'll need him for the second half to have any chance.
Kansas, which struggled shooting the ball on Wednesday against Cornell, had its troubles again in the first half while making just 35.3 percent of its shots and missing nine of its 13 threes. But Tyrel Reed drilled a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to tie the game at the break.
Tennessee looked like it was in trouble about midway through the half, but then Renaldo Woolridge sank three straight 3-pointers, one of them a bank shot from straight on and the other two under heavy duress. It was an unlikely barrage from a guy who had hit only seven 3s all year.
Kansas owned the boards for most of the first half, holding a 17-7 edge at one point and finishing with 10 offensive rebounds to just three for the Volunteers. Cole Aldrich has 12 boards already, but he has just two points on three field goal attempts as Tennessee is trying to smother him in the middle of its matchup zones. The Jayhawks still need to get him more involved in the second half, especially with Chism saddled by foul trouble.