KNOXVILLE — The senior-laden men's basketball program from the southeastern corner of the state taught Tennessee's young roster its first lesson of the season.
Now it's about where the Volunteers go from a season-opening setback.
A lengthy film session with coach Rick Barnes surely is on tap today for freshman-heavy Tennessee after its 82-69 loss to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"It's the first game that means something in front of a crowd, so guys maybe had some butterflies in their stomachs for the first couple of minutes," sophomore forward Kyle Alexander said, "but the vibe in the locker room tomorrow is going to be learn from this and take everything Coach is saying as constructive criticism. We have to build from this.
"Guys might have their heads down in film and stuff, but we've got to learn from this."
The Vols led by as many as seven points in the first half before the Mocs woke up to take a 34-29 lead into halftime, and Tennessee was fighting an uphill battle after UTC opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 14-point lead.
On two occasions Tennessee whittled its deficit to six points, but the veteran Mocs calmly answered every time the home crowd got into the game with the Vols poised to make a run.
"It's always bad losing," freshman point guard Jordan Bone said, "but I feel like this is going to help us. We're going to learn a lot from this game. Unfortunately it was the first game that we had, but it's kind of good that it was the first game, so we can kind of bounce back strong from this."
Barnes said the Vols had harped on taking care of the basketball, but they turned it over 18 times and had just four assists. Tennessee was too "stagnant" on offense, added Barnes, who didn't like how his team lacked movement and work ethic on the offensive end. Tennessee made just one of its 16 attempts behind the 3-point arc.
The Mocs shredded Tennessee's defense in the second half, when the visitors shot nearly 59 percent from the field thanks to seven dunks.
"Our perimeter defense, we were just getting beat too easy," Barnes said. "We didn't fight the drive. Early in the game I thought we defended them, and then we didn't sustain and they were coming downhill against our guards and we didn't put up enough resistance.
"We got away from the scouting report where we were playing guys on the perimeter too tight when we shouldn't have been playing, and we let them drive by us."
Bone scored 21 points in his collegiate debut, but Barnes liked neither how he ran the team nor his assists count.
"It's always tough to kind of take that in, but it's a learning process," Bone said. "He's going to be hard on you because he expects a lot. I've just got to learn from this game."
The freshman shot 8-of-14 from the field, but the rest of his team made just 25 percent (11-of-44) of its shots.
Barnes had pointed words for Lew Evans and Admiral Schofield. Evans, a graduate transfer from Utah State, played just one minute because he hasn't been rebounding in practice. Schofield was scoreless in 13 minutes, and Barnes said his play is affected too much by missing 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Kwe Parker missed the game with a left leg injury.
"I know these guys are going to work," Barnes said. "I know they're going to keep fighting. I think some reality set in tonight where guys understand they better play their role, or the minutes they thought they were going to play they won't play. I think this schedule is going to help us. I really do.
"There were some good things," he added, "but we didn't sustain it, and we'll have to learn from this how hard it is to win a college basketball game against a good basketball team."
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com.