The Vols suffered a 99-97 double-overtime loss to No. 8 Memphis, in spite of a 32-point, 20-rebound performance by 6-foot-7, 255-pound junior power forward Jeronne Maymon.
The last time a Tennessee player recorded 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds in the same game was March 7, 1996, when 7-footer Steve Hamer posted 31 points and 21 rebounds versus Alabama in the SEC Tournament.
"Jeronne played a great game," head coach Cuonzo Martin said on his post-game show. "Jeronne plays hard, plays well on both ends of the floor. He competes at a high level, plays with energy and plays with passion."
Ironically, it was Maymon who missed a fallaway 16-footer at the buzzer that could have sent Tuesday's game into a third overtime. That was just about the only thing he did wrong all day. He finished 8 of 15 from the field and 16 of 17 from the foul line. That last stat is amazing, considering that he sank just 5 of 20 free-throw attempts in all of 2010-11.
"I'm shooting with a little more confidence, taking my time," Maymon said. "I practiced on it all summer.... I was thinking too much last year at the free-throw line."
The Vols played a horrendous first half defensively, allowing Memphis to repeatedly beat them back for transition buckets. As a result, the Tigers shot 61.8 percent (21 of 34) and led by as many as 16 points en route to a 55-45 halftime bulge.
By tightening its defense and slowing its offense, Tennessee outscored Memphis 38-28 in the second half. A driving 5-footer by Maymon with 5.2 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 83-all and forced the first overtime.
"If you shoot the ball quick against these guys (Tigers), they're out in transition quick," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin explained. "Now you don't have a chance to have rebounding balance and your safety is not ready to get back (to defend) because of quick shot selection.
"As a coach, I just kind of reeled our guys in a little bit (in the second half). Work the ball more a little bit more, then pound the ball inside. Then we can play from there."
With the score tied at 91 and mere seconds left in overtime, Maymon drove for a potential game-winning bucket but no foul was called when he lost the ball after colliding with Memphis' Wesley Witherspoon near the basket.
Antonio Barton hit a 16-foot baseline jumper to give Memphis a 99-97 lead with 1:13 left in the second overtime, and Tennessee's two subsequent possessions came up empty.
Barton finished 8 of 11 from the field and 4 of 5 from 3 en route to 21 points. His brother Will was 9 of 17 from the field en route to 25 points. Adonis Thomas made 7 of 10 shots and finished with 19 points for Memphis, now 2-1.
Maymon's supporting cast struggled. Trae Golden added 14 points but sank just 3 of 19 shots, including 1 of 7 from 3. Kenny Hall chipped in 11 points and 6 rebounds.
Tennessee's starting backcourt of wings Jordan McRae (3 of 11) and Cameron Tatum (2 of 7), plus point guard Golden (3 of 19), combined to make just 8 of 37 shots. Interestingly enough, Vol reserves combined to hit 10 of 16 shots, with junior college transfer Dwight Miller (4 of 6) leading the way.
Josh Richardson, a 6-foot-6 freshman, starred defensively for the Vols, helping limit Will Barton to eight second-half points after he scored 17 in the first half. Richardson finished with 8 points, 2 steals, a rebound, a block and an assist in 31 relief minutes.
"Josh is a very intelligent young man ... has a great feel for the game," Martin said. "He plays well on both ends of the floor. He's a competitive guy and he's accepting those challenges on the defensive end of the floor. That's only going to make him a lot better as a basketball player."
As a team, the Vols shot just 40.5 percent (30 of 74) from the field and 33.3 percent (7 of 21) from 3. For the second game in a row, they posted more turnovers (16) than assists (10). Tennessee drained 81.1 percent (30 of 37) from the foul line, however, and won the backboard battle 49-34.
Memphis cooled off in the second half but still shot 51.4 percent (36 of 70) from the field and 67.7 percent (6 of 9) from 3. The Tigers also excelled at the foul line, making 77.8 percent (21 of 27).
Despite losing back-to-back games, the 2-2 Vols have to be feeling good about themselves. After all, the losses were by 77-67 to No. 6 Duke and by 99-97 in OT to No. 8 Memphis.
"We came out and played hard," Maymon said. "We definitely grew up. Our skin got thicker today. It's going to be fun seeing what happens going down the road."
The Vols play Wednesday at 2:30 EST against Chaminade (3-2), which fell 88-61 to Georgetown in another consolation-bracket game.