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KNOXVILLE (Dec. 23, 2011) – After taking a 59-51 lead with 5:36 minutes left in the game, the ETSU men’s basketball team watched the Tennessee Volunteers go on a 15-4 run to close out the contest and take a 66-63 win over the Buccaneers Friday night inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
With the loss, ETSU drops to 5-6 on the season, while the Volunteers improved to 5-6.
“This is really disappointing because we did a lot of things that we wanted to do and we controlled the game for 34 minutes,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “We had some turnovers at critical moments tonight and it cost us. I was really pleased with the effort though and the way we played for most of the game.”
The Bucs got a game-high 19 points from senior Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who also pitched in seven rebounds and seven assists. Meanwhile, fellow senior Tommy Hubbard (Boston) netted 18 points and nine rebounds.
ETSU enjoyed a great start to the game, outscoring the Vols 24-15 over the first 12 minutes thanks mainly to 14 first-half points from Hubbard. However, Tennessee – shooting at a 6-of-12 clip from 3-point range – managed to comeback and tied the game at 29 on a long-range shot from Cameron Tatum with 2:10 left before the intermission.
The Bucs did not cave at that point though, outscoring UT 4-0 to close out the half and lead 33-29 at the break. Along with his 14 points, Hubbard also had five rebounds in the first half, while Sollazzo scored seven points and dished out four assists in the first 20 minutes.
ETSU forced 10 Tennessee turnovers in the first half, while shooting 43 percent from the field and 78 percent from the foul line. Meanwhile, UT’s 50 percent shooting from 3-point range kept them within range of the Bucs.
After the break, Tennessee used a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game and hold a 44-41 advantage with 14:15 left in the game. ETSU once again did not crack under the pressure of the Vols’ homecourt, weathering that storm and going back ahead by four at 55-51 thanks to a Jarvis Jones (Memphis) 3-pointer with 7:21 left.
From there, ETSU added four more points to make it 59-51 on a Sollazzo basket with 5:36 left. Unfortunately, from there it was all Tennessee.
The Bucs twice cut the game to one point at 62-61 and 64-63, but a missed 3-pointer by Jones that would have given ETSU the lead with 25 seconds left rimmed out, and Sollazzo later missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left that would have tied the game.
For the game, ETSU held a 34-27 advantage on the glass and forced 15 turnovers off eight steals. The Bucs shot 41 percent from the floor and a strong 85 percent from the foul line.
Meanwhile, Tennessee hit on 52 percent from the floor and 42 percent from 3-point range, while putting four players in double figures. Tatum led the Vols with 13 points on the night.
The Bucs will now head home for the Christmas break and will return to action on Jan. 1 at Clemson. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.