NASHVILLE, TN – On Thursday the Tennessee Volunteers took on the Georgia Bulldogs in the second round of the SEC Tournament and lost a heart-breaker 59-57.
The No. 9 Vols and the No. 8 seed Bulldogs played a rematch of their Feb. 11 thriller in Knoxville which UGA won 76-75.
The Bulldogs All-SEC forward Yante Manten was expected to play limited minutes in this game coming off an injury. He would end up playing 26 minutes recording 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
On the other side, everyone seemed healthy coming in for UT. However, minutes before tip-off, it was reported that starting point guard sophomore Shembari Phillips was in a walking boot and would not play.
This didn’t seem to affect Tennessee too much. However, what did affect the Vols was the fact that they started 0-6 shooting and only ended up shooting 10-31 in the first half.
The Vols could not buy a shot, but luckily UGA would have 10 turnovers in the first half.
Tennessee led at the half 27-26, but it felt as though UGA still had the momentum since the Vols had shot only 33 percent from the field and from beyond the arc.
Despite the offensive failings, UT played solid defense. They held J.J. Frazier, who had 29 points against the Vols in February, to seven points and two assists in the first half.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t last as Frazier ended up with 17 points, found his way to the line where he went 8-8 and led his team in rebounding with 10.
In the post-game press conference, UGA head coach Mark Fox said he felt UT is a hard-nosed team and they play the game right. He also admitted that without Maten their team isn’t the same and he was happy to have him back.
When asked about the final possession where UT had nearly 20 seconds to get two points, down 59-57 at the time, Vols head coach Rick Barnes said, “We would run that again without question.”
He was also asked why the shot wasn’t taken by Jordan Bone or Lamonte Turner, who were the only Vols in double figures and Bone was 4-6 from three point range.
“They did…we wanted to spread the floor…we wanted to be more aggressive and should’ve shot sooner…but we got a good look,” Barnes said.
Barnes began looking towards next season and he said how excited he was, how he wants expectations and how this team and its players have progressed and can only get better.