COLUMBUS, Ohio — After Tennessee was stunned by Loyola-Chicago in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Jordan Bone was inconsolable. He sat sobbing in his locker for several minutes before talking to reporters.
He kept repeating, "it's all over, man. It's all over."
What was supposed to be a deep run for the young Vols ended early. Bone took the last shot. And missed.
"You've got a 20-year-old guy sitting in the locker room just bawling. Bawling because I felt like that loss was on me," Bone said Thursday.
Tennessee is back in the NCAA Tournament this year and stronger than it was a year ago. At least some of that improvement is because of Bone.
He had the best off-season of any Vol and it paid off. The Nashville native increased his scoring average from 7.3 last season to 13.5 and upped his assist average from 3.5 to 6.
The shot that didn't go down pushed Bone to take his game to the next level.
"I feel like that was a very defining moment of my career, it changed a lot, it changed the way I viewed the game, it changed the way I studied the game, it changed the way I worked man, I worked so hard, cause I just don't want to feel that pain," Bone said.
"I used it as great motivation, we've used it as a team to play with that chip understand that we have to respect the game and respect our opponent cause anything can happen this time of year."
No. 2 seed Tennessee's NCAA journey begins Friday at 2:45 p.m. against no. 15 Colgate.