Tennessee's Late Push Not Enough To Overcome Xavier, 67-63
First Season-Opening Loss For Vols Since 1999; McRae Scores 23
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
- by Special to Chattanoogan.com
CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Tennessee suffered its first loss in a season opener this millennium, falling at Xavier, 67-63, Tuesday night. The Vols had won 14 consecutive season openers dating to 1999.
Tennessee hit a flurry of 3-pointers in the final minute, but it wasn't enough.
Senior Wooden Award Candidate
html">Jordan McRae led all scorers with 23 points. Junior Josh Richardson
added 13 points and Antonio Barton
tallied 10 points, all in the second half, in his Vols' debut.
In his return to action after missing the entire 2012-13 season Jeronne Maymon had seven points and 10 rebounds.
Xavier (2-0) was led by Semaj Christon's 18 while Matt Stainbrook scored 12 and grabbed nine rebounds in his second game at Xavier after transferring from Western Michigan. Myles Davis's free throws sealed the win for Xavier as he scored 11, with 5-of-6 free throws in the final minutes.
Down by as many as 10 points on several occasions in the first half, Tennessee overcame a sluggish start to heat up in the second half, as the Vols got within two points early in the period.
But Tennessee couldn't overcome poor free throw shooting (7-of-19) in the game.
Junior Wooden Award Candidate Jarnell Stokes was in foul trouble all night and fouled out of the game with 2:40 left in regulation after playing just 19 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing four rebounds.
The Vols made a late push as Richardson's 3-pointer spun around the rim and dropped in with 42.9 left on the clock and cutting the Vols deficit to 61-57.
Xavier missed several free throws in the final minute to keep the Vols' hopes alive. McRae nailed a 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left and cutting the score to one possession at 63-60. Myles Davis' pair of free throws with 13.0 seconds pushed the lead back to five (65-60). McRae then again canned a 3-pointer to make it a one score game at 65-63.
Davis knocked down a pair of foul shots with 4.5 seconds left to secure the win for the final of 67-63.
Xavier took a 10-point lead at 60-50 on an Isaiah Philmore free throws with 2:40 left in the second half.
After seeing their lead cut to two, Xavier slowly regained a multi-possession lead midway through the second half. Stainbrook's put back layup gave the Musketeers a 52-44 lea with 6:41 left in the half.
The Vols connected on three field goals in a 40-second span to get back within three at 37-34 with 14 minutes left in the second half. Barton's first 3-pointer as a Vol cut the deficit to 39-37, the closest UT had been since trailing 2-0.
Tennessee trailed Xavier, 27-20 at halftime as the Vols shot just 26.7 percent in the first half, making 8-of-30 from the floor. UT made only 3-of-12 free throws, but played tough defense to trail by only seven. The Vols were thankful for McRae's late production as he led all scorers in the first half with 13 points and was 5-of-10 from the floor.
Early foul trouble forced Stokes to the bench after playing just five minutes in the first half.
Neither team scored for a span of 3:55 until Myles Davis knocked down a short jumper for Xavier to put the Musketeers on top 12-3.
Tennessee started 1-of-17 from the floor and went 6:12 without a point and 7:24 without a field goal in the first half. McRae finally ended the drought with a 3-pointer with 9:04 left in the first half, that cut the deficit to 14-9.
Only two Vols scored points over the first 15 minutes of the game: McRae (6) and Maymon (3) as the Vols trailed 19-9.
The Vols return to Knoxville to open their home slate against South Carolina-Upstate on Saturday at 7 p.m. That game airs on SportSouth and can be heard on the Vol Network.