BATON ROUGE, La. – The Tennessee offense went cold after halftime at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, allowing LSU to hand the Vols their third consecutive loss, 92-82.
Wednesday marked the the Volunteers’ (15-15, 7-10 SEC) first loss to the Tigers (10-19, 2-15 SEC) in Baton Rouge since 2006. UT had previously won five consecutive road games at LSU.
Shembari Phillips and Grant Williams led the way for the Vols, scoring 16 points apiece. For Phillips, that scoring output matched his season-high, while Williams added a season-high 14 rebounds to post his third double-double of the season. Lamonte Turner scored 10 points in the second half, knocking down a couple of late threes, to finish with 14 points.
Despite holding LSU leading scorer Antonio Blakeney (17.9 ppg entering Wednesday night) to just six points, four Tigers finished in double figures, including two 20-point scorers. Brandon Sampson finished with 24 points, while Jalyn Patterson finished with 22 off the bench.
Tennessee took a 46-42 lead into the intermission after shooting 57 percent over the first 20 minutes. Freshman point guard Jordan Bone led the Vols with nine points before halftime.
LSU also displayed some offensive efficiency in the first half, shooting 50 percent overall to keep pace with Tennessee’s best offensive half in the last three games.
After halftime, though, the Vols went cold. UT made only three field goals over the first 16 minutes of the second half, ultimately shooting 27.3 percent (9-of-33) in the final period. Meanwhile, LSU kept up its sharp shooting from the first half, going 14-of-28 from the field and 19-of-26 (.731) at the foul line en route to 50 second-half points.
An 11-0 LSU run early in the second half gave the Tigers their first lead since the first period, racing out to a 60-51 advantage. Four straight free throws from Williams got the Vols back to within five, but LSU countered with a 9-0 spurt that ran its lead to 69-55 with under 10 minutes to play.
During that crucial stretch, Tennessee missed 12 consecutive shots from the field.
The Vols made a late push as Williams converted a 3-point play with 3:46 to go, pulling the Vols within nine. After LSU’s Patterson beat the shot clock with a running scoop shot off the glass on the other end, Admiral Schofield hit a three to make it an eight-point game with 3:01 still to play. But on the ensuing possession, Patterson came up big again, answering with a corner three to put the game out of reach.
Tennessee — which was outscored in the paint, 36-18, and in bench points, 49-31 on Wednesday night — suffered its first loss of the season in which it scored 80 or more points. The Vols were previously 4-0 when reaching that total. Tennessee allowed 90 points for the second time this season and for the first time since it defeated Appalachian State 103-94 in the second game of the season.
BOWDEN IS BACK
After missing nearly three full games due to illness, Tennessee freshman wing Jordan Bowden returned to action and played 19 minutes Wednesday. The Knoxville native and quickly drilled a 3-pointer seconds after checking in for the first time early in the game.
Bowden knocked down a pull-up jumper and another trey later in the half, finishing with eight points for the game.
WILLIAMS CLIMBS SINGLE-SEASON BLOCKS LIST
SEC All-Freshman Team candidate Grant Williams blocked four shots Wednesday; it was his 12th game of the season with at least three blocks.
His 57 total blocks this season — crushing the previous UT freshman record of 38 — rank third on Tennessee’s all-time single-season list. Only C.J. Black (73 blocks in 1997-98) and Doug Roth (60 blocks in 1988-89) have blocked more shots in a season.
One of the SEC’s top shot-blockers, Williams averages just under 2.0 blocks per game.
Tennessee concludes the regular season Saturday when it hosts Alabama for a 1 p.m. ET tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Volunteers will honor seniors Lew Evans and Robert Hubbs III during a pregame ceremony. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.