- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee must learn how to finish as well as it starts.

Robert Hubbs III scored 25 points and made a key block in the last minute Tuesday night as Tennessee outlasted Tennessee Tech 74-68 after leading by as many as 22 points early in the second half.

Tennessee’s fast first-half performance and struggle down the stretch came two days after the Volunteers couldn’t hang on to a 15-point lead in a 73-71 loss at No. 7 North Carolina.

“We’ve shown we can play well,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said, “but what we haven’t shown is we can play a really solid 40 minutes.”

After trailing 49-27 with just under 17 minutes left, Tennessee Tech (4-8) cut Tennessee’s lead to 71-67 on Courtney Alexander II’s dunk with 21 seconds remaining. Tennessee went 3 of 4 on free throws in the final 18 seconds to seal the victory.

“I’m proud of how we came back,” Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said. “It could have gotten ugly.”

Before Alexander’s dunk, Tennessee Tech had the ball twice in the last 90 seconds with a chance to trim a five-point deficit.

On the first possession, Kajon Mack was called for an offensive foul when he leaned into Lamonte Turner with 1:14 left. The next time Tennessee Tech had the ball, Hubbs blocked Aleksa Jugovic’s 3-point attempt with 33 seconds remaining.

“I saw it all the way,” Hubbs said. “And then once I saw (Jugovic) slide to the corner, I just read it. I tried to steal it but couldn’t get there in time, so I just played the shot and blocked it. We needed that. I had to make the play.”

Hubbs had arguably the best performance of his career against North Carolina, as the senior guard scored 21 points and shot 9 of 11. He stayed hot Tuesday by shooting 10 of 17 and pulling down seven rebounds, two off his career high.

Turner added 16 points and shot 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

But the game still was up for grabs in the last few minutes because Tennessee got stagnant. Tennessee (5-4) withstood a 6 ½-minute stretch in which it failed to make a basket.

“In the first half, I think we were the aggressor defensively,” Turner said. “In the second half, they were.”

Jugovic scored 14 points for Tennessee Tech. Mack and Savonte Frazier each scored 11, and Mason Ramsey added 10.


Tennessee Tech: The Golden Eagles have twice as many losses as wins, but they’ve shown plenty of tenacity in how they’ve rallied against more talented opponents. Tennessee Tech trailed Michigan State by as many as 18 on Saturday but made that game interesting down the stretch before falling 71-63. The Golden Eagles followed a similar formula Tuesday as Tennessee struggled to put the game away.

Tennessee: The Vols played virtually error-free basketball in the first half by compiling 11 assists with only one turnover. Tennessee wasn’t nearly as effective the rest of the way. In the second half, the Vols had 13 turnovers with six assists.


“I thought after we dunked the ball once or twice, our guys acted like a bunch of high school guys where they thought the game was over with,” Barnes said. “We just started jacking some 3’s up there. It doesn’t take long when you’re playing against a team that’s well coached and that plays hard. They got comfortable and made us have to make plays at the end to win.”


Turner has gone 14 of 25 from 3-point range over his last four games. While Turner was 5 of 9 on 3-pointers Tuesday, his Tennessee teammates were a combined 1 of 11.


Tennessee Tech hosts Lipscomb on Saturday.

Tennessee hosts Lipscomb on Thursday.


More AP College Basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org


Follow Steve Megargee at www.twitter.com/stevemegargee

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide