The Tennessee Volunteers were bounced from the NCAA Tournament by Loyola-Chicago in an absolute thriller of a game. The Ramblers got a jumpshot to bounce around the rim — and eventually fall to send them to the sweet sixteen.
Before the game we got word that Tennessee’s junior center Kyle Alexander would not be available. In hindsight, that mattered quite a bit — especially on the defensive end.
Admiral Schofield did what he could to pick up the slack, though. He had Tennessee off and running today with a lightning quick 11 points. The Vols built a 15-6 advantage early, but the Ramblers came roaring back. Loyola-Chicago’s defense arrived, allowing them to climb back into this one and grab the lead.
Tennessee trailed by four points at the halftime break.
It took a furious comeback from Tennessee late in the second half, who saw their offense absolutely vanish. Loyola-Chicago held a six to ten point advantage for much of the second half as Admiral Schofield picked up his 4th foul and was forced to the bench.
The Ramblers took Grant Williams out of the game for much of the contest, denying him the ball and keeping him out of the paint.
Finally with under two minutes to play, Williams showed up with a block. He followed that up with a dunk through a foul, which allowed Tennessee to grab a lead with just 21 seconds left.
Tennessee was a stop away from pulling one out of their hat and advancing to the sweet sixteen, but Loyola-Chicago’s Clayton Custer had other plans. His jumper rattled home with three second left, retaking the lead for the Ramblers.
YOU CANNOT STOP LOYOLA IN CRUNCH TIME. pic.twitter.com/gTQeARgK3r— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 18, 2018
Jordan Bone was unable to get his three to fall at the other end — and just like that — the Vols are headed home.
We can argue about this one for the next few days, but the simple fact is that the Vols were outplayed down the stretch. Their offense disappeared for far too long. Loyola-Chicago got the bounce when they needed it in the end, but Tennessee really has no excuse for being in that second half hole.
The good news is that everyone outside of James Daniel is set to return for Tennessee. Hopefully this is a learning experience for next season, but this one is going to sting all summer long.