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UT Exits NIT, Just 2 SEC Teams Remain Alive In Postseason

And then there were two.  Only Florida and Kentucky of the SEC remain alive in postseason play.  Alabama and Vanderbilt have already exited the NCAAs.  Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU were vanquished from the NIT last week.  And last night, Tennessee got the heave-ho, too.

Making matters worse, said heaving and hoing came on their homecourt to in-state rival Middle Tennessee State.  The Blue Raiders scored the game’s final 15 points to pull out a 71-64 win in Knoxville.  MTSU’s Kermit Davis — a Mississippi State grad — has boosted his resume with wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee and a close loss to Vandy this year.  Scott Stricklin, are you paying attention?

For the Vols, they once again showed why Cuonzo Martin dedicated so much of his energy to improving their defense this year — he inherited no shooters when he arrived in Knoxville.  Tennessee shot 37% from the floor and hit just 1-of-13 treys on the night.

Martin said his 19-15 Vols made progress from the start of the season to the end.  A 10-6 record in SEC play and a #2 seed in the conference tournament are testament to that fact.

But missing the NCAAs and losing — in one season, mind you — to in-state rivals Memphis (twice), Vanderbilt, Austin-Peay, and MTSU will be hard for the Vol fanbase to stomach.  Whether fans realize the hand Martin was dealt or not.  (And please spare us the “he had four 4-star players” routine because one was suspended and the other three didn’t play any better for the last coach than they did for Tennessee’s new one.)

When the season started, UT was picked for 11th in the SEC.  On the whole, they far exceeded expectations.

Unfortunately, their second-round exit from the NIT only further shows that the SEC as a league has underachieved this season.  God speed, Kentucky and Florida.  Mike Slive’s league needs ya to keep winning.

 


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