KNOXVILLE -- With an 11-point lead and a little more than six minutes on the second-half clock, the Tennessee basketball team seemed poised to break its two-game losing streak.
Instead, Saturday afternoon ended very poorly for the Volunteers.
Austin Peay rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit and scored the game's final eight points for a 74-70 upset win at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"I really didn't think we were going to lose the game," said UT forward Jeronne Maymon, who led the Vols with 18 points and nine rebounds. "We just had a lot of mental breakdowns that caused them to get the lead. We just didn't go out and get the job done. We just didn't carry out assignments like we we're supposed to."
It was Austin Peay's first win against the Vols in the Clarksville program's history, and it was the first time UT has lost to an in-state team besides Memphis or Vanderbilt since UT-Chattanooga won in Knoxville seven years ago. The Governors, the preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorites, lost their first nine games this season before picking up their first win in overtime against Arkansas State on Monday.
"This is really huge for us," said Dave Loos, who's in his 22nd year as Austin Peay's coach. "It's hard to explain. We had not been shooting well."
The Govs shot well Saturday, as they finished at 59 percent for the game and made 16 of their 22 shots in the second half. Forward Josh Terry scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out five assists. The 6-foot-5 senior made the go-ahead layup on a backdoor cut along the baseline with 1:05 left and iced the game with a free throw after UT's Trae Golden missed a tying 3-point try.
"Hopefully it's a wake-up call," said first-year UT coach Cuonzo Martin. "I think we've got to continue to do a better job of playing as a team on both ends of the floor, being able to share the ball on offense and being able to help each other on the defensive side of the ball. I thought there was a lot of individual play."
The Vols led by 10 in the first half and by seven at halftime. Maymon had 14 points and seven rebounds at that point. Kenny Hall had eight points and nine rebounds as the Vols had more offensive rebounds (14) than Austin Peay had total boards (12) in the first half.
Hall and Maymon, however, combined for just eight points and three rebounds in the second half. Golden and Cameron Tatum made just one of 15 shots between them.
The Vols were outscored 21-6 in the last six minutes.
"We don't have the luxury of going one-on-one consistently," Martin said. "We have to pass, cut and move, penetrate, find the open guy. When the guy is open, pass the ball; good things happen. What happens when you get those leads in some situations, then you feel like you hadn't had a couple of shots, you want to shoot the ball and it's not in the flow of what we're trying to do. That's when you have problems."
The Vols shot 47 percent and scored 42 points in the paint and 21 on second-chance opportunities, but Austin Peay converted 18 UT turnovers into 27 points. TyShwan Edmondson added 19 points and a key late jump shot, and Josh Fraley, the Govs' 6-foot-8 center, had 12 points and five rebounds in his first game back from injury.
Martin maintained his matter-of-fact demeanor after the game but conveyed his disappointment in his team's defense.
"I just think it's taking pride in it, guarding your man and not consuming yourself on the offensive side of the ball," he said. "Whether or not you're getting shots or making shots, your gauge has to be on the defensive side of the ball more than anything. When you're concerned about how many shots you've gotten up, your shots aren't falling and you're not defending, it can be a long night."
The Vols don't have much time to dwell on Saturday's disastrous loss with a trip Wednesday to a College of Charleston team that won by 13 in Knoxville last season.
"We're not happy," Hall said. "[Martin] calls it like it is. He told us exactly where we fell short and what went wrong out there. It's not like he was extra animated as far as yelling and kicking and screaming. It was nothing like that."
Said Maymon: "Every loss, you can take something from the game. We've got enough motivation by how people are doubting us and everything like that. Right now we're not making a good point."