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Ole Miss Battles Back, Beats Tennessee 80-69

A late flurry from the Rebels and lack of poise from the Vols finished off a game of runs.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

A disjointed game from the start, a number of runs would ultimately define tonight’s contest in Oxford. The Rebels built an 11-point lead early in a contest with fouls aplenty and were up seven with 90 seconds to play in the first half. Jordan Bowden hit three threes in the first twenty minutes to keep the Vols alive. Then a late Tennessee blitz was capped by a Lamonte Turner three at the buzzer to tie the game at 38-38 at halftime.

The Vols extended that run into the second half, which was shaken up by an apparent seizure from Rasheed Brooks in the Ole Miss huddle during an early timeout. He was taken to a local hospital and is thankfully reported to be in stable condition.

Tennessee pushed the lead to 13 with 15 minutes to play in the immediate aftermath when the atmosphere in the building turned on a play that was equal parts fluke and brilliance: Marcanvis Hymon tip-dunked a ball that was blocked off the backboard by Admiral Schofield, something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. That sparked an Ole Miss run that gave them the lead back with 9:25 still to play.

The game went back and forth for the next seven minutes, with a pair of Lew Evans free throws pulling the Vols within one with 2:42 to go. But those final minutes were a disaster: Grant Williams fouled out on the next possession, pushing the Ole Miss lead to three. Then Robert Hubbs turned it over and Ole Miss went up five. And then the Vols just started jacking threes, going 0-for-6 to close the game and hand Ole Miss an eventual 80-69 victory.

Tennessee was 6-of-25 (24%) from the arc and shot just 35.2% from the floor. Normally the free throw line is our ally, but not tonight: 13-of-24 (54.2%). Robert Hubbs had 15 points on 15 shots, Bowden 14 on 16, Turner 15 on 15. Jordan Bone followed up his 23-point outburst in Nashville by going 1-for-9.

There were 55 fouls and 26 missed free throws in this game, but the Rebels won it by being the more poised team down the stretch. The young Vols can learn from this, a frustrating loss in one of many toss-up games for this team left this year. Tennessee goes to 9-9 (2-4) and continues its battle with the Magnolia State, hosting Mississippi State on Saturday.