KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Staging a comeback effort from a deficit of 17 points, the Vols were once again shattered on a buzzer-beater, dropping 86-85 to Missouri.
The Tigers’ win marks the third time the Vols have fallen in their last four games, each loss to unranked opponents.
Missing from the matchup was Vols guard Josiah-Jordan James. The senior suffered a left ankle sprain against Vanderbilt last Wednesday.
With James out of the starting lineup, Jonas Aidoo saw his first career start for the Vols.
Tennessee garnered an early lead over the Tigers, Missouri breaking that advantage with 8:55 left in the first half. The Tigers proceeded to go on a 16-3 run that was then broken up by a rare B.J. Edwards basket, the freshman’s first points since Nov. 30th against McNesse State.
Missouri continued on with their dominance, their lead being aided by eight triples made in the first half. The Tigers entered the break with a 12-point edge, 44-32.
As the second half got underway, the Vols didn’t find the net until nearly three minutes in, Olivier Nkamhoua breaking the Tigers biggest lead of the night with a three.
Tyreke Key was everything and more for the Vols. The guard nailed back-to-back threes to close the gap to four with 9:29 left in the game. He then went on to tie it up with less than nine minutes left, 64-64, after connecting on two free throws.
Key led the night in scoring with a season-best 23 points, his electric impact being felt on both sides of the ball.
With a Santiago Vescovi shot from distance, Tennessee took their first lead since the first half with 7:41 left to play.
Zakai Zeigler fouled out with 2:48 left in the game, Missouri then able to put themselves within one. The sophomore guard secured a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.
The Tigers’ Mohamed Diarra and D’Moi Hodge also found themselves in foul trouble. Diarra fouled out early in the second, Hodge joined him on the bench with less than 13 minutes on the clock.
A 23-5 run for the Vols put them in front and an increased intensity displayed by the Vols maintained it up until the buzzer. In a devastating repeat of events, Missouri’s DeAndre Gholston pulled out a three at the buzzer, Tennessee falling in identical fashion as they did to Vanderbilt.