A tale of two halves. Texas (8-3) ended up falling 111-105 in overtime to Tennessee (10-2). This one got away quickly in the second half after the Horns dominated the first twenty minutes and led 50-35 at halftime.
In the first half, we took care of the ball, shot over 50%, and played stifling defense. Texas looked like they could do nothing wrong while Tennessee was struggling to do anything right. Their shots weren't falling in the half court and they weren't able to convert pressure defense into easy offense. The Horns were simply awesome in the first half.
The second half was a totally different story. Their pressure defense really turned the game around. We couldn't inbound the ball after made baskets. DJ Augustin started to show his youth at point guard. They scored time after time on fast breaks or after solid defense. The pace got frantic, the refs inserted themselves into the game, we got in foul trouble, and largely out of control.
But with all the problems, we still held our lead until the final minute of the game, and it really looked like we were going to escape with a win. Two threes by Chris Lofton over Kevin Durant in the final minute led to a different ending. The second three was simply unbelievable: at least 27 feet with a hand in his face. Kudos to Lofton. I said he was the best shooter in the country and he really showed it in the second half. Texas didn't fall apart though. Durant banked in a short jumper to send the game into overtime.
The Vols owned the extra period though. They were fresher and wanted it more. We had just blown a double digit lead in the second half, while they had just come back from the dead. Our defense disappeared in the second as Tennessee scored on every possession. The Horns again coughed up the ball a few times and couldn't shoot their way back in it.
Great first half but a youthful second and overtime period. This is certainly a frustrating loss but far from a devastating one. Tennessee is a tournament team. Hopefully the Horns can learn from this one. We must take care of the ball for the full game and take better shots to beat good teams like Tennessee.
As far as keys to the game:
The Vols shot over 40% for the game and probably outrebounded us. It is also unlikely that we had more than 1.2 assist / turnover ratio. Texas did attack the rim and shot 20/30 from the line. But in the end turnovers, foul trouble, some really quick shots in pressure situations, and Lofton (35 pts) killed us.
Next Game: vs. Centenary Thursday Dec. 28th 7 PM Erwin Center