No. 19 Tennessee falls to Arkansas in overtime

No. 19 Tennessee (9-3, 0-1 SEC) was taken down by Arkansas (11-2, 1-0 SEC) in overtime on Saturday afternoon, 95-93. Senior guards Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford guided the Razorbacks past the Vols with a combined 61 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Arkansas tabbed its sixth straight win, and will now likely be ranked for the first time since 2014 after knocking off Tennessee. The Vols never lost the lead going into the half, but the script quickly flipped in the second half. The Razorbacks trailed the majority of the game before cutting it to 73-72 with a minute left to play in regulation.

Jordan Bone made a free throw to tie the game at 73 with just over 18 seconds remaining, and Macon missed a 3-pointer, sending the game into overtime. Arkansas finished the second half on an 11-3 run.

The Razorbacks momentum continued in overtime, as they built a 12 point lead. However, the Volunteers stormed back late by cutting it to a 2-point game with under two seconds remaining in overtime. Tennessee was unable to register a foul as time expired in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

A concerning theme for the 2017 Vols has been coming out of the gates slow in the second half and the inability to close out games.

“We started off the way we wanted to, we led for the first 36 or 37 minutes,” said Bone. “Just like North Carolina, we lost in the last two or three minutes.”

Bone led the Volunteers with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. Four other Tennessee players logged double-digit points, including James Daniel, who scored 17 points off the bench. The Vols were unable to finish off Arkansas despite outscoring their bench 33-5. The Razorbacks averaged 32 points per game from the bench coming into Saturday’s matchup.

Barford (28) and Macon (31) both had career-highs in points for Arkansas and both had the first 13 points for the Razorbacks in overtime. Arkansas scored 22 points in overtime, which is the most in school history.

“I was really impressed with the Arkansas crowd, it’s like our crowd back home,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. “We played well enough and hard enough, but we weren’t poised enough.”

Both Tennessee and the Razorbacks will return to action on Tuesday. The Volunteers will be back in Thompson-Boling Arena to face Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers, while Arkansas will take on Mississippi State.

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of Arkansas Athletics 

No. 19 Tennessee opens up conference play with a trip to Arkansas

Arkansas (10-2) will host the No. 19 Tennessee (9-2) at Bud Walton Arena in Fayateville on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Rick Barnes and the Vols have worked their way up the polls with big power five wins over No. 14 Purdue, NC State, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. The Volunteers only two losses came against No. 1 Villanova and No. 13 North Carolina, the past two national champions.

Sophomore forward Grant Williams leads Tennessee as he is averaging 15 points and nearly seven rebounds per game. However, sophomore guard Jordan Bowman has been a huge spark for the Volunteers in recent games. Bowden has tallied 28 points, nine rebounds and four assists in his past two games against Furman and Wake Forest.

After a close 66-61 win over Furman last week, the Vols exploded in the second half to snap Wake Forest’s six game win streak 79-60. Bowden shot a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond-the-arc and hit a dagger 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to put Tennessee up 75-60 with two minutes remaining.

“He plays off his teammates,” Barnes said of Bowden. “We try to tell him to be more aggressive. But I think a lot of it is he knows himself, he knows when he needs to go.”

The Volunteers foul trouble nearly proved costly against Wake Forest as they logged 13 first-half fouls. However, Tennessee was able to keep it close with Admiral Schofield and Williams on the bench going into halftime. This allowed the Vols to outscore Wake Forest 43-25 in the second half to take home a win.

The Razorbacks have won their last five games and rank No. 9 in the country in scoring offense as they average 90 points per game. Arkansas has five players that average over double-digit points per game. Senior guard Jaylen Barford leads the way for the Razorbacks with nearly 19 points per game so far this season. Barford has registered 37 points, seven assists and six steals in the last two games against Oral Roberts and CSU Bakersfield.

The senior guard duo of Daryl Macon and Anton Beard have combined for nearly 30 points in each of the Razorbacks last two games. Macon became the first Arkansas player in history to score 15-plus points and 8-plus assists with no turnovers against CSU Bakersfield on Thursday. The Razorbacks outscored Bakersfield 53-30 in the second half to finish with an impressive 95-68 win at home. Arkansas now averages beating teams by over 25 points in home games.

“(Barford’s) confidence is sky high right now,” Macon said. “He feels like when he’s on the floor, he’s the best guard on the floor and nobody can guard him, in his head.”

Arkansas will host Tennessee at 1 p.m. ET on the SEC Network in search of its sixth straight win.

Prediction

Although the Razorbacks come into this game as one of the most lethal offenses in the country, the Volunteers stout defense will prove to be a good matchup for them. The key for Tennessee to play the game they want to is to stay out of early foul trouble. Having key players like Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield on the bench for too long could mean disaster against a strong Arkansas team. The Volunteers will struggle to contain Barford and the Razorbacks veterans, as Arkansas will beat Tennessee 81-77 to win its first SEC game of the season.

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports 

No. 21 Tennessee passes another tough test from mid-major Furman

The Tennessee Volunteers (8-2) took down the Furman Paladins (9-4) in a sluggish Wednesday night game. The Vols came out slow, but from a spark by Jordan Bowden that carried throughout the game, they closed out a solid mid-major team in Furman.

Barnes didn’t believe a North Carolina hangover was what was stopping the Vols tonight, but careless play and missing easy baskets against a good team from the SoCon was the issue tonight.

“Grant missing easy baskets early … Admiral came back at the end (of the game), he got a little careless in the open court because he was playing at a speed he can’t play at,” Barnes said. “But his rebounding and his energy, it was there. Our guards weren’t very good (tonight).”

The Vols were continuously tested by Knoxville native and current Furman point guard Devin Sibley, but the Vols proved resilient by taking each blow and answering it with their own.

Sibley scored 22 points on the night and led all scorers. Sibley was the talk of the crowd throughout the second half of the game, as fans who watched Sibley in high school were in the stands cheering him on. Some even predicted he would have an interesting return to Knoxville:

The Vols eventually took back some momentum when Sibley left the game with foul trouble with 10 minutes remaining. Sibley had four fouls and had to sit much of the second half. Jordan Bowden led the charge.

Putting up 21 points to lead the team, Bowden lit a match under the Vols in the first half and continued throughout the game. Bowden finished the first half of the game with 12 points, and the offense seemed to run through him up until the half ended.

Rick Barnes believes the guard play can use improvement and it starts with Bowden being more aggressive than he was tonight.

“Late, I thought he (Bowden) really started driving the ball … he needs to be more aggressive, it’s not just shooting threes, but he needs to create more for himself,” Barnes said. “We’re trying to do that for him …. play off him a little bit, let him make plays.”

Bowden finished the game with 21 points, and scored nine of those in the second half.

Hustle is the word to describe Bowden tonight, as all six rebounds the Knoxville native tallied tonight were on the offensive glass. Bowden hustled all over the floor, but his strength down the strength was driving to the bucket.

“We were trying to be aggressive, we were in the bonus early,” Bowden said. “We had a tough first half. Sibley was in foul trouble early, we tried to get that last foul on him and get to the free throw line.”

Whether it was a hangover from the North Carolina loss or the later start time, Tennessee came out with little to no fire in this one. Although the crowd was moderate for a 9:05 p.m. tip-off,  the Vols found offense through both Grant Williams and Bowden in the second half.

Scoring only two points in the first half, Williams finished the game with 14, a hair under his season average of 15.8 per game. Williams has become the go-to-guy down the stretch for Tennessee. Rick Barnes credits Furman for the Vols tough game.

“We knew they were going to come in here and not be intimidated, because of their experience,” Barnes said. “We found a way to get the win … Furman’s the big story, they played their hearts out.”

Sibley came out firing in the second half, after only scoring three points in the first 20 minutes of the game. He came out and went blow for blow with the Vols by scoring nine points in the first five minutes of the second half.

Sibley finished the game with 22 on the night, and seemed nearly unstoppable before getting in foul trouble with 10 minutes remaining. Barnes recognizes the success Sibley had on the floor.

“One thing we know for certain is Tennessee has some pretty good basketball players,” Barnes said. “We know that because the two guys on the floor who played their best were both from Knoxville.”

No. 21 Tennessee will travel to Wake Forest on Saturday to face the Demon Deacons in its last game before conference play. The game will tip at 12:30 p.m ET.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee athletics