It started out bad and only got worse for the Vols on Senior Day.
Tennessee was mired in their longest scoring drought of the season in the first half, but that’s not even the worst news of the day for the Vols basketball team. Ole Miss outscored Tennessee 52-38 in the second half to pull out a 83-60 victory in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The game was the last time Armani Moore, Devon Baulkman, and Derek Reese will play at home in their UT careers. And it ended in disappointing fashion.
Here are five observations from Tennessee’s blowout loss to Ole Miss:
A Drought on Rocky Top: The Vols got off to a solid start when they picked up a 7-0 lead to begin the game. But after holding an 11-9 advantage with 14:56 left in the first half, things fell apart.
The Vols missed their next 15 field goal attempts over a 14-minute period, adding seven points via free throws as their only means of scoring in that period. Ole Miss outscored Tennessee 22-7 in that span and cruised to a 31-22 halftime lead before the Vols scored two buckets in the final minute of the first half. That drought put the Vols behind the eight ball to start the second half, and they could never fully recover.
Only a Little Moody: SEC leading scorer Stefan Moody came into today’s game coming off a 43-point performance in Ole Miss’s last game. But because of foul trouble early in both halves, Moody only played a total of 21 minutes and was held to 12 points, 11 below his season average.
But it didn’t matter for Ole Miss, as Sebastian Saiz picked up the slack by pouring in 23 points. Tomasz Gielo added 16 more, and the Rebels were able to survive without their prolific scorer for most of the game.
All About Second Chances: The most glaring discrepancy on the stat sheet in this one was the second chance points scored by both teams. Ole Miss had 28 second chance points compared to Tennessee’s 13 points on second efforts. That large gap was in part because of a 42-35 rebound advantage Ole Miss had over the Vols, but it also had to do with Ole Miss’s superior size down low. The Rebels’ big men had their way down low, especially in the second half.
Seniors Disappointed: Kevin Punter Jr. played his last game for the Vols on February 9th due to injury, but today was the last time Armani Moore, Devon Baulkman, and Derek Reese would play in Thompson-Boling Arena. And it ended in a blowout loss.
The trio of seniors scored a combined 35 points, and Baulkman led the team with 18 points. But aside from Ray Kasongo surprising with 6 points, only three other Vols scored, and Admiral Schofield had 12 of those three players’ 19 points.
Under Protest: One of the more notable things to go on during the game had nothing to do with the game itself. The mosh pit area of the student section was full of student protesters who were there to protest the University of Tennessee’s Diversity Department being defunded. The students wore all black, chanted several times during the game, and staged a walkout during the second half.