The inside story

Wayne Chism will start in the post and Tyler Smith will start at power forward for 14th-ranked Tennessee (9-2) Thursday afternoon at Memphis (9-2). After that, the Vols' inside rotation could get interesting.

The original plan called for 6-10, 276-pound junior Brian Williams to give Chism an occasional break and for Chism to fill in when Smith needed a breather.

Chism's recent pelvic injury changed things a bit, though. With him playing just eight minutes and Smith 20 vs. North Carolina A&T last Wednesday, little-used reserves Kenny Hall and Renaldo Woolridge got more playing time. To say they took full advantage would be a huge understatement.

Hall made 6 of 8 shots and scored 16 points in just 13 minutes. Woolridge contributed 9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 17 minutes. Further complicating matters was the fact that Williams missed 6 of his 9 shots - most at point-blank range - and committed a team-high 5 turnovers.

Williams' struggles to finish around the basket - coupled with the progress made by Hall and Woolridge - could shake up Tennessee's inside rotation in Thursday's game at Memphis.

"I would think that the competition there would be among Kenny, Brian and Renaldo," head coach Bruce Pearl said this week. "Which one or two of those guys will step up and surface? The competition will play itself on Thursday against Memphis."

Chism's health looms as a real key Thursday. He contributed 15 points and 6 rebounds against Memphis in last year's game at Knoxville but the Tigers still prevailed 54-52.

Chism is coming off his two worst games of 2009-10, however. In Game 10 vs. Southern Cal he was 3 of 11 from the field and managed just 1 rebound in 22 minutes. The pelvic injury was an even bigger problem in Game 11 vs. North Carolina A&T, limiting him to just eight first-half minutes.

"Wayne Chism plays a couple of games with a bruised pelvis, so you really don't get to see him play a lot," Pearl said. "Now he's back and feeling much better, so I would look for his minutes to go up. Therefor, the other guys at the position, you look for their minutes to go down."

Hall may be cutting into Williams' minutes, however, based on his sterling play vs. North Carolina A&T.

"Wayne plays eight minutes and gets hurt, so Kenny gets the opportunity to go in there and he does well," Pearl said. "But is it a glimpse of what's available for him down the road - a prelude for the future - or something you're going to see coming up (further down the road)?"

The answer to that question may be forthcoming Thursday at FedExForum in Memphis.

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