LSU (12-8, 2-5 SEC) led briefly in the early going and never let Tennessee (10-10, 3-4) extend its lead beyond seven points. A pair of Brad Bridgewater free throws cut the Vols lead to one, 53-52, with 2:13 to play. Yarbrough responded with a layup, but Collis Temple got the Tigers back to within a bucket with a free throw.
After Higgins hit his three-pointer off the Yarbrough feed to make the score 58-53, Temple came back with a layup at the other end with 24 seconds remaining. Following an LSU timeout, Thaydeus Holden was fouled with 16 seconds on the clock and hit one of his free throws.
Higgins added another free throw with ten seconds to go to make the score 60-55, and Antonio Hudson quickly converted a three-pointer for the Tigers, who were out of timeouts and had to foul Tennessee and hope for missed free throws with one second left. But Holden made his first and the Tigers couldn't rebound his miss on the second shot in time to get off a desperation field goal.
The Tigers were able to shut down Tennessee's inside game, doubling down on center Brandon Crump and power forward Marcus Haislip. But the Volunteers were able to run screens on the baseline for Yarbrough, who buried 5-of-10 three-pointers in the game.
"We did a lot of things that were necessary to win the game," said LSU coach John Brady. "We out-rebounded a team that had been out-rebounding everybody in the last three or four games… We do a great job on Marcus Haislip, who's been playing well averaging 17 (points) and eight boards, and held (Tennessee) to 60 points at home.
"Offensively, I thought we were fine, too. We executed. We had some good shots. We didn't make enough of them. They made a little more than we do and they were able to win the game. I'm disappointed in the loss, but not discouraged with our team."
Playing all 40 minutes in the game, Ronald Dupree led three Tigers in double figures with 17 points and ten rebounds. Torris Bright was 3-of-8 on three pointers for an 11-point night that included seven assists. Collis Temple III finished with 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting, but Brady noted that Temple is struggling with his shooting touch while having to play with a torn foot tendon.
Yarbrough was 8-for-18 from the field and led the Volunteers with nine rebounds. The senior small forward contemplated an early entrance into the NBA but decided to come back and play for first-year coach Buzz Peterson."I thought Vincent Yarborough played the best game I've coached him this year," said Peterson. "I was very impressed. He made a big play when he scored, but he made a huge play when he drew the defender so Higgins could kick out and hit the three. It was one of his smartest games."