Tennessee Loses on Dramatic Buzzer-Beating Three For Second Game In a Row



Tennessee – 85

Missouri – 86

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee returned home still looking for a bounce-back game. The Vols had struggled offensively and when it seemed they had made strides against Vanderbilt in Nashville Wednesday night, they were sent home with a winning shot for The Commodores at the buzzer. They would have to get right at home today without Josiah-Jordan James, if they were going to do so, due to a sprained ankle he suffered in Nashville.

Off the jump, Tennessee seemed to have moved past the disappointment of Wednesday night as well as their recent offensive struggles. Zakai Zeigler energized the team with his usual style of hard-nosed basketball and noticeable hustle. However, Missouri was able to hang around due to shooting well from three-point range. Then, Tennessee’s offensive struggles began to reappear as their shot selection deteriorated. The Tigers, with six minutes to go in the first half, had already made seven threes and took a 29-23 lead in doing so.

Coming out of a TV timeout Tennessee was going to have to adjust or once again find themselves in a dangerous situation against an SEC opponent. The Vols were missing Josiah-Jordan James and his presence as a leader on the floor. It seemed that the offensive struggles were leaking into the defensive side of the floor for The Vols, as The Tigers were no longer just making threes but getting good looks and making them, fueling a 26-8 run since being down by five at 11:35. It was the worst-case scenario for Tennessee as they went cold on offense and The Tigers, it seemed, could not miss. With two minutes to play in the first, Tennessee was looking at an 11-point deficit on their home floor. At the break, Mizzou was shooting 51% from the field and went 8-16 from three. This, compared to The Vols 44% and 3-10 from three resulted in Missouri’s 44-32 lead at the half.

The second half did not go the way Tennessee was hoping as Missouri quickly extended the lead to 17. Tennessee missed their first three shots, and Julian Philips was listed as questionable to return on top of Tennessee missing Josiah-Jordan James. By the first media timeout, The Tigers had added two more three balls to their total. Mizzou was seeing a rim ten times the size of the ball and was pouring in the points. The Vols were staring down one of the largest deficits they had faced all season, and at home no less. Tennessee was going to have to find a way to go on a run. Rick Barnes opted to go with a smaller lineup and Tennessee began to lock in on defense. The crowd in Knoxville came alive and began to will their team back into the game. At 12:26 The Vols had cut the lead to single digits, down 59-50.

When they needed a run, The Vols got one going on an 8-0 stretch. The Tigers were able to build the lead back to ten points before Tyreke Key hit back-to-back threes and two free throws to make it a two-point game with 8:55 to play. Key was building on a great performance against Vandy that resulted in a loss and was determined to get a win in this one. Santiago Vescovi hit two free throws to tie the game and Tennessee took their first lead since 9:27 of the first half with a massive three from Santiago Vescovi with 7:41 to play.

At the final TV timeout, with 3:36 to play, Tennessee was up 76-72 looking to hold on for a hard-fought SEC win. With 60 seconds to play, after some critical free throws from Jahmai Mashak, The Vols were up 83-80 looking to send The Tigers home. With 28 seconds left, Missouri had the ball needing a three to tie. They got a two making it a one-point game and sent Vescovi to the line. Eerily similar to the last game at Vandy. This time, Vescovi hit both. 85-82 Tennessee with seven seconds left and Mizzou to inbound. Tennessee chose to foul, sending Sean East to the line for two for Missouri. East hit one of two and another foul sent Vescovi to the line for a second time. Once again Eerily similar to their last game Vescovi misses the first free throw. Then, disaster. A lane violation gives The Tigers four seconds to win the game with a three and DeAndre Gholston drained a near midcourt fading three to beat Tennessee as The Vols lose for the second straight game on a buzzer beating three falling 86-85.

Tyreke Key led all scorers with 23 points. Kobe Brown led Missouri with 21. Tobe Awaka led all players with seven rebounds, and Kobe Brown led Missouri with five. Zakai Zeigler led all players with ten assists while Sean East led The Tigers with four.

This is what Tennessee Head Coach, Rick Barnes, had to say post-game via Ben McKee of Govols247 on Twitter:

Tennessee’s next game is against Alabama in Knoxville at 6:00pm on Wednesday.

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