Vols tumble in OT, 76-67

The University of Tennessee basketball team's Southeastern Conference Tournament futility continued Thursday night in Atlanta; it merely took five minutes longer than usual to rear its ugly head.

Making just one of nine from the field, the Vols were outscored 12-3 in overtime as LSU upset the 22nd-ranked Big Orange 76-67. This was UT's fourth "one-and-done" in the past five years and the 15th time the Vols have suffered a first-game loss since the league tourney was revived in 1979.

LSU, now 17-14, faces Ole Miss Friday night at 9:45 in quarterfinal play. Tennessee, now 22-10, will get some rest before learning on Sunday how it will be seeded for the NCAA Tournament.

Glen Davis, limited to 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting in the Tigers' 70-67 regular-season loss to Tennessee, dominated the rematch. The massive 6-9, 290-pounder scored 22 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, nine of them coming off the offensive glass.

"He got more touches in the second half," UT coach Bruce Pearl said following the game. "When you defend the post, it's got to be a team defense. We left our 5 man down there too much one on one. Our ball pressure wasn't as good (in the second half) and he got nine offensive rebounds because he was standing under the basket."

Chris Lofton's 3-pointer gave Tennessee a 57-52 lead with 4:43 remaining in regulation but Davis scored seven points in a 10-0 run that pushed LSU ahead 62-57.

A Lofton tip-in with 12.3 seconds left tied the score at 64, then Tennessee got the ball back on a turnover with 7.3 seconds remaining. JaJuan Smith missed a 27-footer at the buzzer, however, and the game headed to overtime.

Wayne Chism scored on a putback to give UT a 66-64 lead 46 seconds into the overtime but the Vols would be outscored 12-1 thereafter. Davis scored seven of the dozen points, with five of them coming off offensive rebounds.

LSU dominated on the inside, hitting 63 percent for the second half and 53 percent for the game. The Tigers outrebounded Tennessee 41-35 and blocked 8 shots.

Forced to do its shooting from outside, Tennessee hit just 34 percent from the floor, including an icy 22.5 percent (7 of 31) from 3-point range.

The Vols kept the game close by forcing 23 LSU turnovers. This enabled the Big Orange to attempt 21 more shots (70 to 49) but the Tigers still made more field goals (26 to 24).

Chism and JaJuan Smith were particularly frigid for the Vols. Chism made just 1 of 9 shots (0 of 5 from 3-point range). Smith was 3 of 11 (0 of 7 from beyond the arc).

Lofton was a bright spot for Tennessee, hitting 8 of 16 shots en route to a team-high 21 points. Duke Crews played well off the bench, chipping in 11 points. Ramar Smith added 10. Ryan Childress added 9 in relief, draining three shots from beyond the arc.

Terry Martin contributed 15 points, Darnell Lazare 12 and Magnum Rolle 10 for LSU, which is the No. 6 seed from the West Division. Garrett Temple blocked five shots and did a solid defensive job on Lofton.

Basically, it was deja vu all over again for Tennessee, which exhibits an uncanny knack for finding ways to lose SEC Tournament games.

Pearl noted that this team shouldn't be blamed for past failures. Still, he conceded that the first-round loss hurt.

"We feel terrible about it," he said, "because of all the support."


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