Rick Barnes' five worst postseason losses at Tennessee

Rick Barnes has brought success to Rocky Top but hasn't been able to get the job done in the postseason.

Mar 17, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Loyola (Il) Ramblers guard Clayton Custer (13) hits the game-winning
Mar 17, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Loyola (Il) Ramblers guard Clayton Custer (13) hits the game-winning / Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 6
Next

No. 5: 2019 Sweet Sixteen vs No. 3 Purdue

This is not a terrible loss by the numbers, but I still remember this loss like it was yesterday. The Vols, led by Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams, made it to the Sweet Sixteen before losing 99-94 to the Boilermakers.

This was the first year I thought the Tennessee Volunteers could realistically make a run to the Final Four and win the national championship. The Vols were a two-seed in 2019 and survived tough battles against Colgate and Iowa in the first two rounds before falling to Purdue. 

The craziest thing about this loss is that Tennessee shot 50% from the field and from three-point range. The Vols matched Purdue in almost every statistic. Even though Purude had a nearly 20-point lead on Tennessee, Barnes rallied his guys, and they battled back and gave themselves a chance to beat the Big Ten's best.

Purdue shot 34-for-62, while Tennessee shot 34-for-68. Purdue made 15-of-31 three-point shots, and Tennessee made 12-of-24. Purdue made 16-of-33 free throws, and Tennessee made 14-of-28. Purdue won the rebound battle 43 vs. 38; both teams had 16 assists. The Vols had seven turnovers to Purdue's eight, and the Boilermakers had 32 points in the paint while the Vols had 38 points. 

That was a crazy close game and what every fan wants in a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee was up by two points late in the game after making an 18-point comeback, and it looked like if the Vols could get one more stop, they would clinch their second Elite Eight appearance in program history.

Lamonte Turner was called for a foul on the Big Ten's leading scorer, Carsen Edwards. He made two of three free throws to send the game into overtime, and Purdue finished off the Vols in the extra period. 

This was a gut-wrenching loss and a terrible way to end this era of Tennessee basketball. This team seemed to do everything right, while Williams and Schofield carried all of Rocky Top on their shoulders. Unfortunately, an Elite Eight or Final Four wasn't in the cards for the 2019 Vols and might have been Barnes' best chance at a deep postseason run on Rocky Top.