After an eleven-day hiatus to focus on final exams, the College of Charleston men's basketball team knocked off the University of Tennessee 71-65 in dramatic fashion in what was arguably their biggest home match-up of the season.
Senior Antwaine Wiggins, a native of Greeneville, Tennessee, led the Cougars with 24 points - tying his career high - 16 of which came after the halftime break. The Cougars' victory was by no means a cakewalk, as most of their offense came during a relentless comeback that started at the end of the first half and continued throughout the remainder of the game.
During the first half, Bobby Cremins' squad looked unprepared, unmotivated, and ready to roll over and accept defeat. The Volunteers, having lost five of their last six games before Wednesday night's contest, came out of the locker rooms hungry and dominated the Cougars for most of the first half. Poor efforts on the boards led to a handful of Tennessee offensive rebounds, and they capitalized on most of them. At the 12:30 mark, one of the many offensive boards led to a deep three from Volunteer junior Skylar McBee, whose impressive 1970's porn star mustache was visible from the 200 level of the arena.
With under 9:00 to play, an authoritative one-handed dunk by Tennessee junior Dwight Miller put the Vols up by a count of 21-13. At the 6:47 mark, after another basket by Miller extended the lead to 11, Cremins was forced to take a time-out. Coming out of the time-out, Wiggins forced up an ugly shot and followed the brick with two missed free throws on the next possession. Tennessee used the continuing offensive miscues by the Cougars to increase their lead to 13 with a little over five minutes remaining.
For most of the first half, everyone on CofC's side – coaches, players, and even some of the more vocal courtside fans – were visibly frustrated. The Cougar's shots weren't falling, their defense was lax, and their heads didn't seem to be in the game. However, with 3:26 on the clock, a big three by Wiggins cut their deficit to seven, and there was a sense that the momentum may be swaying in the home team's favor as the crowd rose to their feet in a thundering clamor. With a tightening of their defense, the Cougars were able to cut the lead to four, going into halftime trailing 37-33.
Out of the locker room, the Cougars gained control rather quickly, going on a run that would give them their first lead of the game, 49-47, with 12:58 to play. Their scoring frenzy would continue, as it was now Tennessee whose desire to win was in question. The Vols connected on only three baskets in the first 15 minutes of the second half as Charleston established a lead they would not give up.
Tennessee's leading scorer, sophomore Jordan McRae, hit a three to cut the Cougar's lead to three, 68-65, with just over one minute to go. However, that is the closest it would get, as Cremins' resilient team held on for a quality win against the non-conference Vols for the second year in a row. The student section, clad in gold Piggly Wiggly t-shirts, rushed the court in a confused manner, with only a small group thinking it would be appropriate to celebrate in such a way after defeating a team with a 3-6 record. The Cougar win comes before they set out for two testing road games against Louisville and Coastal Carolina next week.