About three weeks ago, Ole Miss rallied to beat Tennessee on its home court in Oxford, 80-69.
The Volunteers flipped the script Wednesday night in Knoxville, handing the Rebels their 10th loss of the season with a 75-66 victory.
It wasn’t a pretty win for Tennessee (14-10, 6-5 SEC), as head coach Rick Barnes was quick to point out after the game.
“The fact is, you’re going to have to win some tough games,” Barnes said after the win. “All you have to do is execute the game plan.”
The Vols built a 16-9 lead midway through the first half, but Ole Miss (14-10, 5-6 SEC) quickly responded to take the lead back and eventually hold a four-point advantage at halftime.
The second half showcased the same level of competition, except for one glaring difference: the Vols made the crucial shots down the stretch, including a game-icing three-pointer from freshman Jordan Bowden with 54 seconds remaining.
That made the score 71-66 before a pair of Lamonte Turner free throws and one form Grant Williams brought the Vols’ final tally to 75.
Williams was big outside of the free throw line as well for Tennessee, recording four of the Volunteers’ nine blocked shots to add to 18 points and seven rebounds.
“Man, (Williams) is just so active and uses the ball well,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said after the game. “I thought he was big with blocked shots. He’s a terrific player.”
Senior guard Robert Hubbs III tied Williams with 18 points after saying Tennessee’s last loss to Mississippi State was on him.
Following Hubbs and Williams was Jordan Bowden, who had 14 points, while Jordan Bone led the way in assists with five.
The Vols recorded 25 points from the charity stripe on the night and 18 off of turnovers, making big opportunities count when they needed to do so.
Tennessee also got plenty of help from the bench — the Vols’ bench players put up 21 points to Ole Miss’s 11 points.
“Give Tennessee credit, they hit big shots,” Kennedy said. “Tennessee just made all the effort-winning plays that you need to make down the stretch.”
Tennessee faces Georgia (13-11, 4-6 SEC) Saturday in Knoxville at 4 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Ben Proffitt