Updated at 10:37 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.
OXFORD, Miss. — In game number two of the season against Ole Miss, the Tennessee men's basketball team picked up Saturday where it left off in a 33-point win three weeks before.
The 19th-ranked Volunteers were moving the basketball, knocking down shots and outworking a Rebels team directed by an interim head coach and playing with no real hope of its season lasting beyond the Southeastern Conference tournament.
That was how the beginning felt inside the Pavilion at Ole Miss. Then the Rebels started playing like a team with nothing to lose, while the Vols hardly looked like a squad headed to a favorable seeding in the NCAA tournament.
The final score showed a 73-65 Vols victory, but the path to get there was another Jekyll and Hyde act from Tennessee (21-7, 11-5), which was aided by Ole Miss making just one of 23 shots from 3-point range. The Rebels fell to 12-17, 5-11.
"Give them credit, because they stayed in it," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "We had a chance to maybe break it loose earlier, but they stayed after it. Then we were able to build the lead back up and get a win. This time of year, a win is a win. We have to continue to get better."
With two regular-season games left, Tennessee can finish no worse than tied for second in the SEC standings, and the Vols are virtually assured a double-bye in the SEC tournament. They play at Mississippi State on Tuesday.
Admiral Schofield led Tennessee with a career-high 25 points as leading scorer Grant Williams struggled with foul trouble and Tennessee's guards offered spotty contributions. Jordan Bowden's 15 points for Tennessee came on 5-of-13 shooting.
Schofield's career high in points came in 35 minutes, which was just one shy of his career high in that category.
"Well, one, he had to play a lot, because Grant was a nonfactor," Barnes said. "He was out there more than he is normally, and I thought for the most part he handled that pretty well, because there's times in the past when he couldn't have played 35 minutes."
Schofield hit a pair of 3-pointers — the Vols made nine of 20 as a team — but he also scored on post-ups and from midrange to pace the offense as Williams scored only six points in 20 minutes in his first game without a free throw since November 2016.
"I was just really aggressive offensively," Schofield said. "I usually play off of Grant, but he got in foul trouble early. I had to step up. That was pretty much it."
Starting point guard Jordan Bone turned in another solid performance, playing 30-plus minutes for the second game in a row and leading the Vols with eight assists.
Bone had four assists in the first 2 1/2 minutes as Tennessee jumped to an early lead that just kept growing. The Vols led 29-9 at the third media timeout of the first half, but the Rebels outscored them 28-12 in the next nine and a half minutes to draw within 41-37 on a Terence Davis fast-break dunk with 16:56 remaining.
Tennessee pushed the lead back to 16 points with 7:40 remaining before Ole Miss closed within 10 points with 1:04 left.
"Well, I don't think they should get it down to four if we're doing what we need to do," Barnes said. "But, yeah, with the way we responded, that was good."
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