Vols

Vols’ Sweet Trip To Louisville Turns Sour

Vols’ Sweet Trip To Louisville Turns Sour
Logan Quinton

 

From Sister Jean to Gene Keady, the Tennessee Volunteers have seen their fair share of a certain pronoun the past 13 months.

At least that’s the way Vols fans feel.

For the second year in a row, a Tennessee basketball squad loses to the same syllable in  the NCAA Tournament.

It was a slow start for the Vols, as neither Grant Williams nor Admiral Schofield could over come a Purdue team that mounted a 12-point lead at halftime.

The Vols went 4-of-13 from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes. Schofield had exactly one point. Tennessee was out-rebounded 21-16. Despite a flurry in the second half, the Vols had no interest in matching the Boilermakers’ physicality from the onset.

On top of Carsen Edwards going for 15 in the first half, Purdue’s bigs were 7-of-9 from the field. The Boilermakers did Tennessee a favor by going 1-of-5 from the free-throw line. The result was a Purdue 40-28 lead at the break.

Schofield made up for a one-point performance in the first half by going for 20 in the second. The senior ended up 7-of-15 from the field and led the team in rebounding with nine.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome a sharp-shooting performance from soon-to-be accountant Ryan Cline from Purdue. The senior was an amazing 7-of-10 from distance. Then you add a Kemba Walker-like performance from Edwards and a victory seems insurmountable.

But it wasn’t.

The Vols climbed back from an 18-point deficit to tie the game at 65 with just under seven minutes to go.

What proceeded was a slug-fest. The teams exchanged jaw-dropping shots. Schofield and Cline were the primary contributors. But with two seconds left, the officials called a foul on Tennessee guard Lamonte Turner. The Vols were up 82-80. The whistle allowed Purdue’s Edwards three free-throw attempts. He made two. “Last play of the game, he kicks his leg out, (I’m) trying to contest the shot, he kicks his legs out,” proclaimed Turner.

 

The game went into overtime, where it was all Purdue from there. The Boilermakers outscored Tennessee 9-2 in the first three-and-half minutes during the extra session. Williams was not on the floor to start the 5-minute segment for Tennessee, just as Schofield was absent in the same situation against Iowa.

Even though the SEC Player of the Year entered the game posthaste, it wasn’t enough to beat Purdue’s willingness to get to the rim in the waning moments.

For a team that went 15-31 from the free-throw line, the Boilermakers made the most of their opportunity down the stretch by hitting their last 10 from the charity stripe.

A marked, historic regular season for Tennessee ended with a bitter taste.

Most college basketball teams would love to experience two wins in the NCAA tournament. This Volunteer team had aspirations for more.

Tennessee won 19 games in-a-row. They held the No. 1 ranking for four consecutive weeks. They dismantled Kentucky at home and played for the SEC tournament championship.

Yet, they fell victim to the madness in March. The stardom of Edwards, matched with an outlining performance from Cline, resulted in a disappointing loss for the 2019 Vols.

The 99-94 ringer capped a season that will live for debate for many years in Tennessee basketball history.

The 2018-19 Vols harbor the SEC Player of the Year and two other All-SEC members. They broke program records, but fell short of postseason expectations.

Tennessee’s great regular season run was overshadowed by what accomplishments could be made in March.

John Fulkerson encapsulates the season as a whole:

Regardless of perspective, this team won’t be excluded from examination in Tennessee basketball folklore. if anything, they should be graded harder. The 2019 Vols established a mindset, a motive that was en route to garner forbidden fruit that one searches for in March.

On Thursday, it wasn’t-to-be for the Vols. A sugar-sweet campaign quickly turned on a team with higher expectations. It doesn’t take away from their success during the regular season or thereafter. The disappointment reflects on what they can improve.

Will they turn the page? Only the 2019-2020 team will know the truth.

Contributed by Logan Quinton and Trey Wallace.

 

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