J.P. Prince scored a season-high 17 points, and No. 9 Tennessee showed off its depth in beating Middle Tennessee, 75-54, last night in the first game of the Sun Belt Classic in Nashville, Tenn.
The Vols (7-1) hadn't played since downing East Tennessee State on Dec. 2, and the 9-day layoff led to some sloppy play. The ugliest came when Wayne Chism clanked his one-handed dunk attempt off the right rim in the second half.
Middle Tennessee (3-6) lost its third straight. Desmond Yates led the Blue Raiders with 26 points.
In the nightcap of this event, which pit two Sun Belt teams against Tennessee's two Southeastern Conference members, Western Kentucky beat Vanderbilt, 76-69, in their first meeting since 2001. A.J. Slaughter scored 27 points for the Hilltoppers (5-3), who beat the Commodores for the first time in 11 tries.
Jeffery Taylor led Vandy (6-3) with 21 points.
In other games:
* At Dayton, Chris Wright had 16 points and 12 rebounds to help the Flyers (7-2) beat Old Dominion, 58-50, for their 24th straight homecourt win.
* At Hartford, Corey Hassan had 29 points and Sacred Heart (5-3) won, 76-65. Archbishop Ryan product Joe Zeglinski scored 25 points to lead the Hawks (2-9), who lost their seventh straight.
* At Iowa State, Craig Brackins had 28 points as the Cyclones (7-3) defeated Iowa, 81-71. Matt Gatens had 20 points for the Hawkeyes (3-7).
* At Massachusetts, Terrell Vinson had 20 points and 11 rebounds to help the Minutemen (5-5) beat Grambling State, 81-58.
* At Drake, Josh Young scored 21 points as the Bulldogs (4-5) defeated South Dakota, 96-81, at the Drake Invitational.
* At Prairie View, Darnell Hugee had 34 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and two steals to lead the Panthers (4-5) past Ecclesia, 83-53.
* North Carolina said guard Marcus Ginyard will miss tonight's game against Presbyterian with pain in his left foot.
* Sophomore guard Konner Tucker is leaving the Wake Forest program for undisclosed reasons.
* Saint Mary's guard Wayne Hunter will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will have surgery this month. *