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Tennessee 84 Marshall 74 - Reversal

Down 16 early in the second half, Tennessee rallied in quick and impressive fashion.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

We were warming up the "uh oh" post, the call for sobriety with three coaches in three years.  We were thinking about how it could get this bad this quickly.

And then just as quickly, Tennessee roared back, then roared in front.

Marshall, playing their first regular season game after losing to Division II Newberry College in an exhibition game, led 38-35 at halftime.  The Vols got to the free throw line just twice in the first 20 minutes, and continued their cold shooting from the arc.  Still, there was probably as assumption the Vols would just run away from Marshall in the second half on talent alone.

And then the Thundering Herd opened the second half on an 11-0 run.

Marshall led Tennessee 51-35 with 14:59 to play.  The Vols had turned it over four times and missed five threes in those five minutes.  We were failing across the board with the body language to go with it.

But coming out of a timeout just before the final Marshall bucket of their 11-0 run, Tennessee made it their business to stop shooting threes and start getting to the basket.  And business got good in a hurry.

On their next four offensive possessions the Vols got a layup from Robert Hubbs, an and-one from Armani Moore, two free throws from Kevin Punter, and an and-one from Hubbs.  This cut the lead to eight, and the next time down Devon Baulkman hit a huge corner three to make it five before Marshall called timeout.

Free throws then became the story.  Hubbs and Punter added four more to get the lead to one.  Kevin Punter was then the man to give Tennessee the lead, burying a jumper then a heat check three after a Baulkman steal.  Add in four more free throws and the Vols had scored on 10 consecutive possessions.  And when a Punter turnover broke that streak, he responded with another three to give the Vols a nine point lead with nine minutes to play.  The Vol run was 29-4 in six minutes.

Tennessee would let Marshall get no closer than six from there, hitting their first 16 free throws before finishing 25 of 30 (83.3%).  The Vols won 84-74, notching their biggest comeback since Rick Barnes was on the other sideline.  Armani Moore had 20 points and 8 rebounds, the Vols got 19 from Punter and Hubbs, and Devon Baulkman hit 3 of 6 from the arc and finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds.  Derek Reese grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 4 shots.  The lineup continues to change a little each night with the newcomers, as this time Kyle Alexander did not play and Shembari Phillips, Admiral Schofield, and Ray Kasongo all saw limited action with Kasongo scoring four points.

This could have been really bad, but it turned out really well.  Credit these players for responding so well and hitting so many free throws, and Rick Barnes for getting them away from the three point line and to the basket in the final 15 minutes.  We've half-joked about this team being able to give and take double digit leads, but it was no joke tonight and may not be going forward.  Once again, you were entertained, and this time Tennessee finished the job in victory.

The Vols return Sunday at noon against Gardner-Webb.