3 Takeaways: Vols Blow Lead, Fall To Ole Miss 80-69

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    Photo Credit: Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

    Tennessee (9-9, 2-4) followed its impressive road win at Vanderbilt with a clunker in Oxford late Tuesday night as the Vols fell 80-69 to a beat-up Ole Miss (11-7, 2-4) team that had just one conference win coming into the game.

    Here are three takeaways from Tuesday evening:

    1. Scary scene for Ole Miss and Rasheed Brooks

    There was a scene early in the second half that really put the game into perspective for both teams.

    After playing 15 minutes in the game to that point, Ole Miss senior Rasheed Brooks collapsed on the bench, suffering what Ole Miss says was a seizure. He was taken off the floor on a stretcher and then transported to a local hospital for further testing. Thankfully, he appears to be in stable condition, but tests are ongoing.

    “Its my understanding he is stable, conscious, but he does not remember anything and he is still going through tests,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said in the postgame press conference. “It was a frightening moment for all of us and our prayers are with him. I turned my back and felt him fall against me, but I thought it was cramps. We were emotionally devastated to see Rasheed suffering and it was hard for our players to go back out there.”

    2. Game of runs 

    It was a back-and-forth contest all evening. Ole Miss had as much as an 11-point lead in the first half, but Tennessee closed the first 20 minutes strong, going on a 7-0 run to tie it at 38 at the break thanks to a 3-pointer by Lamonte Turner with three seconds remaining.

    Then Tennessee took off. With Ole Miss clearly a bit shell-shocked, the Rebels fell behind behind by as many as 13 points as the Vols pieced together a 19-2 stretch that spanned the late first half and early second. But that 13-point edge at the 15:00 mark was as far as Ole Miss would let UT go. The Rebels scrapped their way back into it, and by the 9:23 mark, they had already regained the lead at 57-56.

    The teams went back and forth a bit for the next few minutes, but by the closing minutes, it was all Ole Miss. Tennessee only made one field goal in the last 5:24. In total, Ole Miss outscored Tennessee 41-17 in the final 15:00 of the contest.

    “I never felt like we were really in control,” Rick Barnes said after the game. “You know they were going to make a push at it at the end, I thought they took it to another level and I don’t think they matched the energy. We started taking bad shots.”

    3. Game of fouls

    Tennessee fans were certainly upset with some of the officiating, and there were some shaky calls, no question. But when a team dominates the way that Ole Miss did over the final 15 minutes, it’s tough to point to the officiating as the reason for losing.

    It is fair, however, to blame the officials for making the game essentially unwatchable. Fifty-five fouls were called in 40 minutes and the teams attempted a total of 66 free throws. Virtually every player on both rosters was in some form of foul trouble, and three total players – two for Tennessee (Grant Williams, Shembari Phillips) – fouled out.

    That made for a frustrating game for the Vols, who outside of that one run and a few highlight plays, really struggled to capitalize on any momentum they built in Nashville over the weekend.

    “We were being careless with the ball we’d take bad shots and we fouled way too much,” Barnes said. “If you put a team on the free-throw line 42 times, that’s a lot of fouls. I felt like when we were up you’d expect them to make a push. When they punched we didn’t punch back and they kept punching.”

    Play of the night:

    Final stats: