KNOXVILLE -- Some of Wayne Chism's best basketball games for Tennessee have come against Vanderbilt.
But Chism, who averages nearly a double-double in his career against Vanderbilt and has nullified Commodores star center A.J. Ogilvy, probably won't be 100 percent for Wednesday's game in Thompson-Boling Arena because of a sprained knee.
Chism hobbled off the floor early in 14th-ranked UT's Saturday loss at Georgia, and he wasn't as effective after returning several minutes later.
"He went knee-to-knee initially, and that kind of banged it," UT coach Bruce Pearl said Monday afternoon. "And then, as a result of being knee-to-knee, it hyperextended a little bit, and so we're calling it a sprain. He's been living with trainer Chad Newman all day yesterday and all day today -- around class. We're going to try to see him tomorrow and see how he feels, but he's doing very well.
"We'll know more tomorrow."
Chism's role has gradually shifted from important to irreplaceable as UT's roster has dwindled. And the forward from West Tennessee usually has played a crucial role against the Commodores. His 18 points and 18 rebounds led UT over Vandy two seasons ago in Knoxville, and he added 20 points and seven rebounds during the home half of UT's series sweep last season.
Ogilvy has struggled offensively against Chism and junior center Brian Williams, who remains indefinitely suspended for his role in UT's New Year's Day arrests.
Vandy's big Australian has averaged just 8.5 points and four rebounds on an average of 2-for-6 shooting from the field in four appearances against the Vols. Ogilvy's career averages are 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
"Wayne has played well against Vanderbilt," Pearl said. "It's a very important matchup with him and Ogilvy, but this year Vanderbilt is so much more balanced than what they've been in the past. That matchup's still important, but there are other matchups that are probably equally important.
"This is the deepest Vanderbilt team I've seen, and the most talented Vanderbilt team that I've seen. Obviously, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are playing probably the best basketball of anybody else in the league at this point."
If Chism is even remotely limited against Vanderbilt, the Vols will count more heavily on Kenny Hall. The promising 6-foot-8 freshman forward has averaged 9.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in his first four SEC games, and he replaced Renaldo Woolridge in the starting lineup at Georgia.
Hall said Monday afternoon that he felt confident he could hold his ground with or without Chism beside him.
"I feel like I can step up my game to the highest level expected," Hall said. "That's what I expect of myself, and I'm sure that's what my teammates expect of me. I'm so confident in myself and my game that I don't find any other player to be better than me.
"I'm not saying that I'm the best, but I'm not just going to give any player that much respect and say, 'You're better than me.'"
Hall credited Chism with reinforcing that confidence daily on the practice floor.
"Just with the battles in practice, even in drills, whenever I do a move wrong, he's always telling me the way to improve it -- whether I need to adjust my footwork, or I need to pick up my speed and quickness in certain moves," Hall said. "In my words, I would say he's been like a mentor-type, big brother-type to me by talking to me, trying to teach me the plays and trying to teach me different moves. He's even helped me in the weight room on a couple of occasions."
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