Ole MIss forward Reginald Buckner (2) has his shot blocked by Tennessee's John Fields (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)
OXFORD, Miss. -- There wasn't much Brian Williams didn't do Saturday afternoon.
The Tennessee center scored, rebounded, passed, blocked shots, made free throws, fouled and even started a fastbreak or two with quick outlet passes in the Volunteers' 74-57 Southeastern Conference win at Ole Miss.
But that wasn't all.
"I actually hit a buzzer-beater today, too," the 6-foot-10, 272-pound Williams said, smiling. "I am clutch."
He had 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and a 22-7 second-half Vols spurt turned a close game into a comfortable road victory in front of 8,807 fans at the C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum.
"We played great team basketball," said Williams, who made seven of eight shots in 25 minutes off the bench. "We took advantage of their turnovers and took advantage of our defense. We played old Tennessee basketball."
"That's the type of player we envisioned that he could be if has the mindset on the offensive end," said UT associate coach Tony Jones, who was filling in for the sixth game of coach Bruce Pearl's eight-game SEC suspension.
"We told him before the game that [Ole Miss] didn't have the size to contend with him on the interior. This is a game where he could be effective offensively, and he did that."
Williams got plenty of help from the other Vols (14-7, 4-2). Scotty Hopson scored 12 of his 13 points in the first half, and Cameron Tatum added 13 in the second half for his first points in an SEC road game this season.
"Coaches and the guys on the team were telling me, 'Just stay ready. It's your half. We're going to need you,'" said Tatum, who sank two deep 3-pointers during the decisive run after playing just five first-half minutes with foul trouble.
But as well as the Vols played offensively in the second half (16-of-29 from the field), their performance defensively and on the glass provided a larger source of pride. Ole Miss (13-8, 1-5) shot just 26.7 percent (16-of-60) from the field, and the Vols outrebounded the Rebels 49-40 with freshman Tobias Harris grabbing 12.
"That's what we're trying to build our identity off of -- defense and rebounding," Tatum said. "We did a great job of doing that and locking down their best players and forcing them into a bunch of 'Huh?' shots."
UT turned that defense into offense, forcing 16 turnovers for the game and scoring 10 of its 14 transition points in the second half.
"[Ole Miss] missed a lot of shots," reserve forward Steven Pearl said, "but it's good to see that we can play that kind of defense against a good offensive team. It's so much better on the road."
Chris Warren (16 points) was the only Ole Miss player in double figures, but the SEC's second-leading scorer needed 21 shots to get that total.
"That's Tennessee basketball," Jones said, "to play ... with maximum effort for 40 minutes, keep opponents in front of us and help each other defensively and secure rebounds.
"To hold an SEC team to 26 percent in their building is special."
Williams' putback of a Trae Golden miss at the buzzer tied the game at halftime. Ole Miss scored half of its first-half points at the foul line, but after taking 19 free throws in the first half, the Rebels shot just seven in the second.
"We were kind of frustrated in the first half, but it's the road," Williams said. "We've got to handle adversity."
UT did just that, with Tatum and Williams leading the charge.
"I take pride on the game of basketball and the different aspects of it where I excel at," Williams said. "I try to the best of my abilities, and that's defense and rebounding and trying to make plays for others."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-581-7288.
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Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...