NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee men's basketball lost in a thriller against Vanderbilt on the road, 66-65, at Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
It was a back-and-forth affair and the biggest lead for either team was when No. 6 Tennessee led 23-18. Both teams were making shots with flare from the three-point line and dunks.
Tyreke Key came into the game having scored just eight points in his last four games. Coaches said he needed to step up his offensive game, much like others, and he had 10 first-half points for the Vols.
Vanderbilt had responses. Forward Liam Robbins had 11 first-half points and drained three three-pointers.
Vanderbilt made six three-pointers against the nation's top three-point defense in Tennessee, and it played a major part in the Vols leading by a narrow margin of 34-32 at halftime.
The Vols, who didn't eclipse 30% shooting in its last two games, shot 50% from the field in the first half.
Vanderbilt held a 39-36 lead in the second half and the Vols rattled off a nice 8-0 run to retake the lead. Two freshmen, Julian Phillips and Tobe Awaka, scored four points each during that run.
However, the Commodores put together a 7-0 to retake the lead trailing 48-44 to retake the lead at 51-48.
This game came down to the wire. Tied at 60-60, Awaka fouled Vanderbilt's Colin Smith on a three-point shot. He made all three free throws to put the Commodores up 63-60 with 2:04 to go.
Later on, Zakai Zeigler had his shot blocked on a driving layup, but Olivier Nkamhoua came up with the rebound. The possession ended with Santiago Vescovi shooting a three-pointer to tie, and he made it with 1:37 to go.
Smith missed a layup with just over a minute to go to attempt and put Vanderbilt back up.
Tennessee scored on a jumper from Nkamhoua on their next possession to take a 65-63 lead with 50 seconds to go.
The Vols got another defensive stop. The Commodores had a lot of fouls to give but finally got the Vols to the free-throw line with eight seconds to go. Vescovi missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt.
Vanderbilt got the rebound and called a timeout with four seconds to go to draw up a play. Out of it, Tyrin Lawrence made the game-winning three-pointer for the Commodores to upset the Vos.
Tennessee's 11-game winning streak over Vanderbilt comes to an end.
The Vols fall to 8-3 in conference play and play Missouri next at home on Saturday at 6 p.m.