For the second week in a row, the Tennessee basketball team took on a top-10 opponent, this time playing No. 8 Gonzaga at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
And for the second week in a row, the Volunteers fell, this time dropping an 86-76 decision to the Bulldogs.
The Volunteers fell behind from the opening tip and never led. Gonzaga jumped out to an early 27-6 lead in the opening minutes, thanks to some great shooting and defense. The Volunteers were able to trim their second-half deficit to four on two separate occasions but never could get any closer.
But here’s the deal: This game and the UNC game were winnable games if #Vols didn’t collapse in Chapel Hill and make FTs today.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) December 18, 2016
Gonzaga boasts a huge front line, led by Polish senior Przemek Karnowski. The 7-foot-1, 300 pound mountain had his way inside and got into a few arguments with Tennessee players. After Tennessee’s Lew Evans fell down while defending Karnowski, the Gonzaga senior appeared to tell him to hit the weight room.
— jeremy (@rowdycable) December 18, 2016
Karnowski finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds, and Nigel Williams-Goss finished with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Tennessee was led by Detrick Mostella, who had 17 points.
With the loss, Tennessee moves to 6-5 on the year, while Gonzaga moves to 11-0.
Player of the Game: Detrick Mostella
As previously mentioned, the junior led the Volunteers in scoring with 17. He hit a number of key baskets in the second half to shrink the Gonzaga lead to single digits. Tennessee also had Grant Williams and Robert Hubbs finish in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Stat of the game: first-half field goal percentage
The Volunteers pretty much shot themselves out of the game in the opening 20 minutes, as the Volunteers shot 23.5 percent from the floor. The poor shooting effort was just too much to overcome.
Turning point: Hubbs’ missed and-1 free throw
The Volunteers were trailing 75-69 with two minutes to go, Hubbs hit a shot and was fouled, giving the Vols a chance to trim it to a one-possession game. But Hubbs missed the free throw, so Gonzaga led 75-71. Josh Perkins hit a shot for Gonzaga on the ensuing possession and the Volunteers never got any closer.
What’s next for Tennessee basketball
The Volunteers go on the road to take on East Tennessee State on Thursday. It will be the last nonconference game for the Volunteers as they open SEC play against Texas A&M on Dec. 29.
Tennessee basketball box score