Tennessee took to the road Tuesday night for a rematch against a hungry Arkansas team that wanted revenge for the loss they suffered just two weeks ago.
They got their revenge as the Vols lost 64-69.
Both teams were tied for third place in the SEC and the Razorbacks were coming off back-to-back wins, the last one in overtime against Alabama. This game was important because it gave the nation a chance to see if Tennessee could go on the road against a tough team and get the job done to avoid a two-game skid.
The first half was all about defense. Both teams were utilizing the press and trying to make their opponent uncomfortable with the ball and harder to establish tempo and run sets.
Robert Hubbs III had 12 points in the first half on 5-8 shooting and was playing more aggressively. Armani Moore went 2-8 from the field and 5-6 from the line for 9 first half points and also grabbed 4 rebounds. Josh Richardson went 2-5 from the field and 2-2 from the line for 7 first half points. He also grabbed 2 rebounds and dished out 3 assists.
The Vols shot 12-29 from the field and 11-13 from the line. They also won the rebound battle 21-12.
Bobby Portis for Arkansas shot 4-6 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line for 13 first half points. He was playing like a man on a mission since he was unable to make much of an impact last time his team took on Tennessee, and the Razorbacks lost because of it. Anton Beard was the other Arkansas top performer in the first half; he shot 4-4 from the field for 10 points. Arkansas shot the ball fairly well in the first half, going 12-26 from the floor.
Tennessee held a 37-35 lead at the break. Arkansas found themselves behind because of their free-throw shooting; they went an unimpressive 8-13 from the charity stripe in the first half. Tennessee also could have had a larger lead at the break but had multiple turnovers, racking up 9 in the first 20 minutes of action. The Vols did a decent job against the Razorback’s zone, but it had Tennessee moving at a fast pace, and it caused them to make some poor decisions with the ball.
The second half saw both teams going back and forth until it came down to crunch time, where the Vols failed to perform, missing free throws and giving the ball away on turnovers.
Arkansas had four players in double figures. Michael Qualls missed much of the first half because of foul trouble, but he came out in the second half and scored 17 points on 5-11 shooting. He also shot 5-7 from the line, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Bobby Portis also scored 17 points on 6-8 shooting and recorded 8 rebounds. Both Alandise Harris and Anton Beard had 10 points.
Tennessee also had four players in double figures. Armani Moore went 3-11 from the floor but shot 5-6 from the free throw line to finish with 12 points. He also grabbed 6 rebounds, recorded 2 assists and 2 steals. Robert Hubbs III finished with 15 points on 6-11 shooting and went 2-3 from deep, the one miss being the potential game winner.
Kevin Punter went 4-10 from the field but finished with 10 points. Josh Richardson was the lead scorer for the Vols, going 7-13 from the field for 17 points and recorded 6 assists. Willie Carmichael III scored 4 points on 2-2 shooting and did a great job defending down low.
Tennessee shot 43.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over 16 times. They tied Arkansas on the boards though, 31-31 and out-rebounded them on the offensive glass 9-8.
Despite the turnovers, it seemed like the Vols accomplished everything they wanted to when they planned for Arkansas, except get the win. Their immaturity was on display late in the game as Punter missed both free throw attempts with only a minute or so on the clock, and Armani Moore had a turnover in the half court. Coach Tyndall drew up a perfect last play, and it gave Hubbs III a great look from three-point range, but it just wasn’t meant to be for the Vols.
Tennessee will try to rebound on Saturday when Auburn comes to town with their new head coach, Bruce Pearl. He will be making his first return to Thompson-Boling since the last time he was head coach for the Vols.
Edited by Maggie Jones