KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee men's basketball team's 31-game home-court winning streak came to an end Saturday as the 19th-ranked Volunteers lost 51-47 to No. 13 Memphis in front of a capacity crowd of 21,868 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols (7-2) return to competition Wednesday at Cincinnati. Memphis improved to 9-1.
Despite shooting just 25% from the field in the game, the Vols led 47-46 after a layup by Lamonte Turner with 2:15 to play. The Tigers' Damion Baugh hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining, though, and Alex Lomax knocked down two free throws with seven seconds to play for the final margin.
Here's the good, the bad and the verdict for Tennessee from Saturday's loss.
Tennessee's half-court defense is most likely going to have to be its strength this season, and if there was a positive from the game, it was that. Memphis shot just 34% from the field and committed 17 turnovers. Freshman guard Josiah-Jordan James was perhaps the lone bright spot for the Vols on offense, making three 3-pointers — equaling the number he had hit all season before Saturday — and leading his team with 14 points.
Everything outside of the defense. The Vols will have to be opportunistic on offense and lean heavily on the play of senior guards Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, but against the Tigers the pair combined to miss 18 of 21 shots. Tennessee also allowed 13 offensive rebounds and was outrebounded by 10 total.
The Vols are who they are this season: a tough-nosed team that has to be at its best defensively, using its length to disrupt opposing offenses. The offense will be a constant work in progress as Tennessee looks for additional, consistent scoring options in addition to Bowden and Turner. But until then, the Vols will need those two to lead the way — and they didn't Saturday.