Tennessee’s youth reared its head once again in the form of inconsistent play on Tuesday night.
The Vols dropped an 80-69 game on the road at Ole Miss after leading by as many as 13 points with 15 minutes left.
Coach Rick Barnes was clearly upset and disappointed after the defeat at The Pavilion in Oxford, Miss.
“We got outplayed, and that’s what I told them,” said Barnes, now 0-2 against Rebels’ coach Andy Kennedy. “I thought we lost confidence and we were out their waiting … I didn’t think we were in attack mode. We got stagnant and we had a group out there where no one wanted to take the shot.”
The Vols missed their final 10 shots in the game over the final 3:36, and the Rebels took full advantage, pulling away with a 10-0 run at the 2:30 mark en route to the win.
Tennessee dropped to 9-9 overall and 2-4 in the SEC, already a long shot to attain its goal of making the NCAA Tournament entering into the road game with the Rebels.
“We weren’t very good,” Barnes said. “There are very few teams in the country that can win and not play hard, and we’re not one of them.”
The teams combined for 55 fouls, with Tennessee getting the worst of the whistles.
Ole Miss was 27-of-42 shooting free throws to the Vols’ 13-of-24 free-throw effort.
“It was a hard game to get flow because there were so many fouls being called,” Barnes said. “We fouled way too much. You put a team on the line 42 times, that’s a lot.
“When you’re not engaged, you tend to reach and grab.”
Senior Robert Hubbs lll was 7-of-15 shooting to share team scoring honors with Lamonte Turner (15 points), and Hubbs also led the team with seven rebounds.
Freshman Jordan Bone, the hero of Saturday’s win at Vanderbilt, was just 1-of-9 shooting with four assists and two turnovers in 15 minutes.
The Vols led by as many as 13 points in the second half, up 52-39 with 15 minutes remaining.
Tennessee basketball next game
Tennessee returns to action at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.