Tennessee Athletics Department
Chapel Hill, NC – Tennessee led No. 7 North Carolina by five with just 4:32 remaining in regulation on Sunday at the Dean E. Smith Center, but the upset bid came up short as the Tar Heels outscored UT 10-5 over the decisive stretch, handing the Vols a 73-71 loss.
Tennessee (4-4) was led by senior Robert Hubbs III, who scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also had a team-high six rebounds. Freshman Jordan Bowden added 12 points with five boards.
After leading by as many as 15 in the first half, the Vols successfully fended off North Carolina’s (10-1) comeback attempts for much of the second half.
Grant Williams — a North Carolina native — knocked down a short jumper in the lane to give UT a 68-63 lead with just over 4:30 to play, but a 7-1 run gave the Tar Heels their first lead since the 15:34 mark in the first half.
The rally was capped by a driving layup from Carolina’s leading scorer, Justin Jackson, which gave the Tar Heels a 70-69 lead with 2:14 left in the game.
The Vols hung around, trailing 73-71 with nine seconds left. Lamonte Turner drove the length of the court and into the lane, but his potential game-tying shot attempt was blocked with just two seconds remaining.
Turner, coming off a 24-point outing against Presbyterian last Tuesday, finished with nine points. Williams turned in a nice outing in his home state, posting seven points, six rebounds and four blocks.
Behind a big first-half showing from Hubbs, Tennessee led by eight at the break, 44-36. The senior from Newbern, Tennessee, was 7-of-7 from the field for a game-high 15 points.
After UNC scored the first four points of the game, the Vols went on a 27-9 run–at one point scoring on 10 consecutive possessions. The Big Orange shot 65 percent as a team in the first half and were 3-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Rebounding Edge
North Carolina entered Sunday’s game as one of the top rebounding teams in the country. Its plus-15.4 rebounding margin for the year ranked first among Division I schools while its 15.5 offensive boards per game ranked seventh. Tennessee held its own in the first half, going into the locker room level with the Tar Heels at 20 rebounds apiece.
But UNC asserted itself on the glass in the second half, out rebounding the Vols 21-12. UNC finished the game with 22 offensive rebounds, including a tip-in from Brandon Robinson that gave the Tar Heels a three-point advantage with just 50 seconds to play.
Tennessee got off to a quick start in the first half, scoring 44 points behind a shooting percentage of 65.4 percent (17-of-26). Robert Hubbs III headed up that effort, going 7-for-7 from the field for 15 points. Jordan Bowden went 4-of-5, including 2-of-3 from three, to head into the locker room with 10.
Tennessee’s first half field goal percentage of 65.4 is the fourth-highest ever recorded by a North Carolina opponent at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Up Next for UT Vols
Tennessee will play three games over a six-day span beginning Tuesday night when it plays host to Tennessee Tech at 6:00pm CT. The Vols then host another in-state foe, Lipscomb, on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Following those contests, UT heads to Nashville to take on No. 8 Gonzaga at the Battle on Broadway.