KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State men’s basketball team shot a season-high 92 percent from the free throw line, but fell to the University of Tennessee on Friday night, 88-67.
Patrick Miller led TSU (0-6) in scoring for the sixth straight time with 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The Chicago native also recorded season-highs with 6 assists and five rebounds.
M.J. Rhett and Jay Harris each scored in double figures for the Tigers as Rhett finished with 14 and Harris poured in 12. Rhett also added five rebounds.
The Tigers posted a season-low 20 boards, but its five blocks were the most for the team during the 2013-14 campaign
Each team came out of the gates shooting 50 percent from the field during the first five minutes. However, the Vols (3-1) made one more basket and another was a three to lead, 11-8. Miller and Rhett each had four in the game’s early going.
Later in the half, Tennessee went on a 10-1 run that spanned nearly five minutes. TSU had three turnovers and missed four shots during the stretch and found itself down, 24-13, with eight minutes left before halftime.
UT strung together two quick layups back-to-back, forcing head coach Travis Williams to burn his second timeout of the half at the 4:09 mark. The stoppage to re-group worked, as Miller immediately made a jumper and Kennedy Eubanks canned the Tigers’ first three-pointer of the game on the next possession to make the score, 35-24, in favor of the home team.
Miller’s and Eubanks’s hoops were part of an 11-3 TSU run to end the half. Jay Harris had the other five points, but the Tigers trailed, 38-30, heading into the locker room.
Tennessee State shot 46 percent (11-of-24) during the opening stanza, but only made 1-of-7 from beyond the arc (14 percent).
The Tiger bench outscored their counterparts, 9-6, and TSU was 7-for-8 from the charity strip for a strong 88 percent conversion rate.
In the second period, Miller poured in a three at the 17:30 mark to pull the Tigers within six, but the Volunteers answered with a three of their own make the score, 45-36.
Tennessee extended its lead to 16 at the 14 minute mark thanks to a 9-0 run and five TSU fouls. Those fouls led to seven of the nine UT points.
True freshman Jamonte Graham scored his first career points with a fast-break layup with six minutes to play. His basket cut the UT lead to 17, but TSU couldn’t build off of the hoop.
The Tigers scored the last bucket of the game as Alex Bates hit a jumper with 41 seconds remaining, making the final score, 88-67.
TSU shot 43 percent from the field (20-of-46), but couldn’t find its stroke from deep, hitting 3-of-15 (20 percent) from three-point land.
The Tigers will stay on the road and face another SEC opponent in Auburn on Tuesday night. Tigers meet Tigers at 7 p.m.