The Rebels entered the game, played at home, with four losses to only one win in Southeastern Conference games. Tennessee is considered by most as a conference contender, despite its rather average overall record.
Tennessee had the nation's best strength of schedule prior to tipoff.
The Rebels desperately needed a win if their remaining regular season games were to carry even the slightest of postseason implications. But a back-and-forth game early turned into a laugher late. Ole Miss couldn't score. Tennessee did.
The Volunteers built a double-digit lead midway through the second half with a 19-4 run, and only added to it, capping off a 74-57 win in front of 8,807 fans inside Tad Smith Coliseum. With the loss, Ole Miss fell to 13-8 overall and 1-5 in the SEC.
"Nightmare," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I've never experienced anything like it. It just seemed to be throughout the team. You've got to make some shots. Tennessee's a physical team. Tennessee's a good team. We had our opportunities.
"When you shoot 26 percent from the field, it's going to make for a long night. That's what we just experienced."
Cameron Tatum failed to score in the first half. He exploded in the second.
Tennessee's junior guard had 13 points in the second half, including seven in the Volunteers' decisive run. He was 5 of 10 for the game, including 2 of 4 from beyond the 3-point stripe. Ole Miss, meanwhile, couldn't keep up.
Tennessee (14-7, 4-2) wore the Rebels down, outscoring Ole Miss, 30-12, to end the game -- this after Ole Miss held a 45-44 lead with 13:32 to go in the game.
"It was a disaster, quite frankly," Kennedy said. "In the second half, when we continued to come up empty, we allowed it to affect us some. We were never able to get back in it."
Ole Miss was ice cold in the first half, making good on just seven of its 25 field-goal attempts. Instead, the Rebels did most of their damage at the free throw line. Ole Miss converted 16 of 19 free throws in the first half alone.
But in the second half, Kennedy said the Rebels were far less aggressive. As a team, they got to the line just seven times. They scored a grand total of 25 points. Tennessee shot 55 percent in the second half, and was 4 of 10 from 3.
"We weren't as aggressive," Kennedy said of the team's second-half performance. "We continued to search.
"Had no answers offensively, whatsoever. We went as deep on the play card as we could, just trying to get different guys the ball. We were hoping we could find a way to break through. We couldn't."
The Rebels committed 16 turnovers to five assists. Tennessee had 16 assists to 13 turnovers, and also won the rebounding battle, 49-40.
Chris Warren paced Ole Miss as the only player in double-figure points with 16. His three 3s tied him for fifth place in SEC history.
Warren saw his streak of 35 consecutive free throws made come to an end. While active, the streak was tied for 15th longest in conference history.
Reginald Buckner had eight points and seven rebounds. Dundrecous Nelson and Trevor Gaskins had seven points apiece. Ole Miss shot 27 percent (16-60) from the floor, and 16 percent (3-19) from 3.
"I thought when we came out, we had a lot of effort," Warren said. "We got good looks, we just didn't make them. It happens. Unfortunately, it happened to us. Would have been better if it had happened to Tennessee."
"Just couldn't make any shots. I really don't know what it was. We couldn't make any plays," sophomore guard Nick Williams said. "They're a tough team, but it's nothing we haven't faced this year. Chris was hot early, but he was the only one. Somebody else had to step up and make some plays. We didn't."
Brian Williams has 18 points for Tennessee, while Scotty Hopson had 16. Williams also had nine rebounds and four assists.
Terrance Henry welcomed his second child, a son, Friday night in his hometown of Monroe, La. Henry traveled back to Oxford this morning, and was in Ole Miss' starting lineup. He had five points and two rebounds.
Tennessee earned its 68th career win against Ole Miss. The Volunteers now lead the all-time series 68-38. Ole Miss next hosts Kentucky Tuesday in a game to be broadcast on ESPN at 6 p.m.
"There's a lot of frustrations," Kennedy said. "That was an unacceptable performance. And, ultimately, it's my responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen. So I take the responsibility. We've got to take some hard looks at ourselves. Guys have to play to their potential for this team to have a chance.
"We've shown capable when that happens. We've just got to get it more consistently."