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HOOPS RECAP: Vols stave off furious Maryland second-half comeback, eke out 56-53 win

Where’s the petition to outlaw Tennessee basketball games at the Barclays Center

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Tennessee Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Without Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo, Tennessee managed to hold on and win 56-53, despite being outscored 36-22 in the second half and committing eight second-half turnovers.

Neither team started efficient offensively, as Tennessee missed at least three shots near the rim and shot 1-11 from the field through the first five-ish minutes of the game. Santiago Vescovi made his return after missing a few games due to a shoulder injury and showed some rust by missing his first two looks.

The Terrapins just happened to be worse — they turned the ball over three times and hit just one of their first six attempts.

By the under-12 media timeout, the Vols had stretched their lead out to 12-5, thanks to a Zakai Ziegler floater, a subsequent Ziegler steal that led to a Mashack run-out layup and a 3-pointer from Olivier Nkamhoua. Tennessee controlled the boards — 17-10 as of the 11-minute mark — but its inability to convert nine offensive rebounds into more points kept the Vols from really getting out in front of the Terrapins.

A Tyreke Key 3 at the 10:41 mark made it 15-5 Vols, and Uros Plavis hit a cutting Ziegler for a layup on the next possession. At this point in the game, Tennessee was on a 16-3 run that stretched more than eight minutes of action.

Ziegler fouled a Terrapin on a 3-point attempt — which gave Maryland three free points — and was immediately taken out of the game. But Tyreke Key hit one of two FTs on the other end, and a Maryland live-ball turnover led to a Plavsic face-up/ drop-step layup that made it a 20-8 game through 13-ish minutes.

Maryland’s offense really struggled to hit shots — 2-18 through 14 minutes of action and an eight-minute span without a made field goal — but it hit all five of its FT attempts to this point in the game, while the Vols had left six free points at the line with a 5-11 mark from the charity stripe.

Vescovi scored four-straight points for Tennessee starting the 5:43 mark with a turnaround jumper in the lane and two free throws a possession later. The two FTs and a subsequent layup from Nkamhoua came off Maryland turnovers. As of the four-minute mark, the Vols had scored 12 points on 10 Terrapin giveaways.

Two Julian Phillips free throws made it a 31-13 fame with a little more than two minutes left in the half, then the Vols cashed in on an offensive rebound with a Vescovi pump-fake, side-step 3 to extend the lead out to 21 at 34-13.

UT missed its final three shots prior to halftime, and Maryland closed the half on a 4-0 run, with all four points coming via free throws. At the break, Tennessee led 34-17, thanks in large part to Maryland’s 3-24 effort from the field.

Neither team scored through the first two minutes of the second half, but Plavsic picked up his third foul at the 17:49 mark — bad news for the Vols with Aidoo already sitting out.

Phillips subsequently picked up two fouls inside 30 seconds — the second of which was his third foul and sent him to the bench — and Maryland cut the lead to 34-21 thanks to the Vols giving up two-straight layups.

Tennessee’s been good this season on its inbounds plays under the hoop, and Nkamhoua got an easy bucket one one of those instances and its first points of the half at the 16:13 mark.

Maryland cut the lead to 36-23 off a Julian Reese bucket near the hoop, one that came via a Vols’ turnover, then Ziegler and Reese traded layups before a Ziegler 3 propped the Vols’ lead back up to 41-25. It’s worth noting that Ziegler also picked up his third foul in this stretch, too.

Freshman post player Tobe Awaka played significant minutes with Aidoo’s absence and the Philips/ Plavsic foul trouble, and Awaka more than held his own. He had two-straight layups off offensive rebounds on back-to-back possessions starting at the 12:24 mark and then blocked an attempted shot at the hoops by Maryland’s Reese. At this point in the game, Awaka led the team in rebounds with eight (five of which were offensive) and had seven points.

Maryland cut Tennessee’s lead to 10 (45-35) with another bucket at the rim, and Plavsic picked up his fourth foul on a moving-screen call. Maryland’s full-court pressure induced some lackadaisical passes that led to Tennessee turnovers. The Terrapins also entered the bonus at the free-throw line with more than eight minutes left as they hit two FTs to cut the Vols’ lead to 45-39 with 8:13 left.

The Vols turned it over, again, on a Key travel, and the Terps came within four points on a paint shot from Donta Scott. Just like that — Tennessee was on the business end of a 12-0 run that spanned nearly four minutes. Four Volunteer giveaways in this stretch fueled the Maryland burst, while the Terrapins turned it over just once in the first 13 minutes of the second half.

A Key catch-and-shoot 3 gave Tennessee some life, but Maryland erased it on its next possession with a three-point play that was also Phillips’ fourth foul.

With 5:13 left, Vescovi missed the front-end of a one-and-one opportunity, and then Nkamhoua got called for a foul on the rebound, which put the Terps at the line to make two FTs and make it a two-point game at 48-46.

Jahmai Mashack hit his fourth 3 of the year, but the defense gave up an immediate dunk on the other end. On UT’s next possession, Mashack missed two point-blank shot attempts and the Terps drew another shooting foul with its next possession. Maryland hit one of two to make it 51-49.

A Ziegler corner 3 put Tennessee back up five with 2:52 left, and a minute later, the Vols were struggling to break Maryland’s press. The Vols eventually got the ball out of the corner and had a two-on-one fast break that was about to lead to a layup, but Rick Barnes called a timeout that negated the easy bucket. UT ended up not even getting a shot up after the timeout and turned it over via a shot-clock violation.

Up by four with less than a minute left, Phillips got two chances right at the hoop and missed them both, which gave Maryland the ball. The Terps missed their inital shot but managed to come up with the ball in scrum on the offensive glass and got the second-chance layup to go, which made it 55-53 Vols with 24.6 seconds left in the game.

Tennessee managed to get the ball in and get it to Ziegler, expecting the foul that came, but Ziegler missed the front end of the one-and-one chance. Maryland’s leading scorer Jahmir Young got a shot off that didn’t sink, and Nkamhoua collected the rebound and got the ball to Key, who Maryland immediately fouled. But, of course, Key missed the second free throw — the one that woulda made it a four-point game. On its final possession, Maryland managed to get a 3 from Young up that missed as time expired on the Terrapins’ comeback.


  • Ziegler led the team with 12 points and was the only Vol to score in double figures
  • Vescovi played a team-high 37 minutes, and while his shot wasn’t falling — 2-11 and 1-9 from deep (something that’s become a trend this year) — his three steals were key and led the team
  • Tennessee hit just 11 of its 21 free throws
  • As a team, the Vols hit 10 of their 27 layup attempts
  • The offense put up a putrid .87 points per-possession figure
  • Awaka finished the game with seven points on 3-6 shooting with eight rebounds, one block and one steal in 17 minutes. He also led the team in plus/minus at +17.