Déjà vu: Last Second Stop Lifts Vols

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - by Kevin Connelly
Tennessee leads by one with less than 30 seconds remaining. Vols are at the free-throw line with a one-and-one and a chance to extend the lead. They miss the front end and give possession back to their opponent.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. You should, because it’s the exact same scenario Tennessee found themselves in Saturday against Alabama. The only difference this time is the opponent was Vanderbilt, who was able to get a shot off before time expired.

They actually got two chances for the win, but Kedren Johnson’s lay-up bounced off the rim and Kevin Bright’s put back came up short.
With the Commodores comeback bid coming up short as well, for the second time in as many games, the Volunteers escaped Thompson Boling Area with a one-point victory.

“Those games take a toll on me,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said Tuesday after the game. “But it’s great to get a win like that and even more impressive to get those key stops”

For a team that was just 1-3 in games decided by five points or less prior to Saturday’s win over the Crimson Tide, Martin’s ball club has been up to the challenge in the last two contests.

“We talk to our guys about how in order to get to something, you have to go through something,” said Martin. “I think for our guys going through tough losses it made them a tough group, a resilient group and those losses can really take a toll on you.”

The Volunteers poor play down the stretch early in the season also made for a poor start to conference play. It appears they have recovered from that as well, moving to 3-4 in the SEC after Tuesday’s win.

They currently find themselves sitting in the top half of the league standings, with a chance to make some headway before contests against Florida and Missouri in the final two weeks of the regular season.

With three out of the next four games coming on the road for UT, it was important to secure the last two on their home floor. The Vols have yet to win a true road game, but they’ll get another crack at it this Saturday in Fayetteville.

“I just think our guys have continued to put their hard hat on and work hard in practice and they really have developed a brotherhood amongst each other,” said Martin. “They have a passion for one another and with that they have a chance to be successful.”

kconnel1@utk.edu

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