Vols Lose To Mercer In NIT, 75-67

Knoxville, Tenn. – The Tennessee basketball season came to an end on Wednesday night as the second-seeded Vols lost to Mercer, 75-67, in the first round of the NIT. The Vols finished the season 20-13. Mercer moved to 24-11 and advances to the second round at BYU.

Sophomore Jarnell Stokes posted his 16th double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds. It is the most by a Vol since Bernard King had 19 in 1976-77. Stokes’ 12 offensive rebounds are the most by a Vol since at least 2001-02.

Trae Golden notched a team-best 20.

Mercer was led by Travis Smith, who tallied 25. Center Daniel Coursey was a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor for 15 points before fouling out. Langston Hall (16) and Jakob Gallon (12) also scored in double-figures.

Down by nine, 50-41, with 11:44 left in the game, the Vols cut the deficit to four, scoring five consecutive points. Stokes corralled consecutive offensive and scored on a putback to bring the Vols back within five at 50-45 with nine minutes left. After a Golden free throw, Mercer retaliated. The Bears scored the next six points to take a 56-46 lead with 6:50 left in regulation. That was the first double-figure lead of the game.

A 3-pointer by Skylar McBee cut the deficit to seven with five minutes left, 59-52. Mercer continued to answer the Vols as they attempted to make a late-game push.

A Jordan McRae 3-pointer with 1:24 left in regulation, cut the Bears’ lead to 67-61. But, Mercer made 10-of-12 free throws in the final 1:37 to seal the game.

Mercer used a 10-1 run to end the first half to take a 34-28 lead into halftime. Coursey and Smith each tallied 10 points in the first half to lead all scorers. Stokes topped UT with seven points and nine rebounds.

Coursey caused major issues for the Vols in the first half. He made his first five shots from the floor and gave Mercer a 22-18 lead with nine minutes left in the half.

A pair of layups by Stokes tied the game at 22 as the Vols ended a scoring drought of nearly five minutes. A Josh Richardson layup extended the spurt to 6-0 and a 24-22 lead with 4:41 left in the half.

The game opened with a fast tempo as Mercer took an 11-9 lead on a 3-pointer by Thomas with 4:30 elapsed. No fouls were called in the game until McRae was whistled for an offensive foul with 14:18 left in the half.

Courtesy UT Media Relations