KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s young basketball team learned a valuable lesson about taking its collective foot off the gas on Tuesday night.
The Vols (5-4) beat Tennessee Tech (4-8) by a 74-68 count, but not before things got much more exciting than Coach Rick Barnes would have liked.
Tennessee saw a 22-point lead in the second half dwindle to five points with 1:55 left before salting the game away at the free-throw line after Robert Hubbs lll came up with a blocked shot with 32 seconds left.
The culprit for the Vols’ near-meltdown was turnovers. The team committed just one in the first half, but in the second half Tennessee had 13 of them and the plucky Golden Eagles took advantage.
Hubbs lll led Tennessee with 25 points, and redshirt freshman Lamonte Turner scored 16.
The same Golden Eagles played Michigan State to 71-63 Saturday at Breslin Center.
Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said entering Tuesday night’s game in Thompson-Boling Arena that the Vols were the “same team, different uniform” as Tom Izzo’s Spartans.
Tennessee held a 43-25 halftime lead, with Hubbs (15) and Turner (12) combining for more than half the teams’ points.
The Vols showed tremendous ball movement in the first half with 11 assists on their 16 baskets through the first 20 minutes.
Player of the game
Robert Hubbs lll scored his 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds with a rebound and a blocked shot.
Stat line of the game
Turner had the highest plus-minus, as the Vols outscored the Eagles by xx when he was on the floor. Turner was 5-of-9 from 3-point range and had a team-high four assists.
Tech’s Aleksa Jugovic 14 points lofted a 3-point attempt from the corner with his team down by five points and 32 seconds left, but Hubbs blocked the shot.
What’s next for Tennessee basketball
The Vols return to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena against Lipscomb.
Tennessee basketball boxscore vs. Tenn. Tech
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) December 14, 2016
WARMING IT UP
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) December 13, 2016