Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl proved once again why he should be a favorite to win the AP coach of the year award.

Wayne Chism scored 26 points, including six straight free throws in overtime as Tennessee knocked off No.21 Mississippi, 71-69, on Saturday.

Tennessee has been playing with several walk-ons since the suspension / dismissal of four players eight days ago who were involved in a traffic stop that resulted in gun, drugs and alcohol charges.

Melvin Goins, Cameron Tatum, Tyler Smith and Brian Williams were arrested on misdemeanor gun, drug and alcohol charges after a traffic stop on January 1.

Pearl suspended Goins, Tatum and Williams indefinitely on Friday, January 8. Smith was dismissed from the team.

Pearl reinstated Goins and Tatum, who will return to practice on Sunday.

Ninth-ranked Tennessee (14-2, 2-0 SEC) has shown remarkable resilience in the absence of the four players. And it started with a 76-68 win over then-No.1 Kansas last Saturday. The Volunteers followed that with an easy 81-55 win over Auburn and now an overtime win over Mississippi.

“We are tired,” Pearl told the Associated Press. “We expended a great deal of energy the last three games in seven days. This homestand is very, very memorable. This homestand was about our program. I am proud.” 

Chism played 41 minutes.

“I had to fight through [the fatigue] because I knew I was going to have to play a lot of minutes because that was a tough team out there,” Chism told the AP.

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Photo credit: AP