Patterson: "Tennessee Had Been Playing With Fire"

The Volunteers couldn't expect luck to be on their side every time they needed it to be, says Patterson.

The DA Show
March 29, 2019 - 1:48 pm
Rick Barnes

USA TODAY images

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Purdue and Tennessee played in what should be remembered as another March Madness classic on Thursday night, but afterwards much of the attention was on the officials, and on one call in particular.

The Volunteers stormed back from an 18-point deficit only to then lose 99-94 in overtime, but the fact that the game even went to OT was controversial in itself.

Tennessee was up by two with just a few seconds left when guard Lamonte Turner was called for a foul as he attempted to contest a Carsen Edwards three-pointer from the corner. Any contact that occurred was minimal, and Edwards then hit two of three free throws to send the game to an extra period.

Some are blaming the officials for the result, but CBS Sports HQ College Basketball Analyst Chip Patterson is not one of them.

“I’m just not a big ‘blame the officials’ guy,” Patterson said on The DA Show. “It was a bad call, and I understand that when we’re talking about the slimmest of margins and the NCAA Tournament that it stinks. It’s a really, really hard one for Tennessee to swallow, but Purdue played really well in that game. Carsen Edwards didn’t have his best game. Ryan Cline was great. Tennessee, they had kind of been playing with fire here, in the first round and against Iowa. It’s hard to imagine that they’re going to get every single break time and time again.”

Tennessee barely emerged from the first two rounds after playing close games against lower-seeded teams in Colgate and Iowa. The Volunteers let both the Raiders and the Hawkeyes stick around and even take the lead at points in those games. They weren’t playing as convincingly as one might expect a No. 2 seed to play against heavy underdogs.

The Volunteers then came out flat to start this year's Sweet 16 before a furious comeback brought them back into the contest. DA asked Patterson if it was on head coach Rick Barnes that his team faltered at the very end of regulation and in overtime of the Purdue game.

“No, because it’s already a little bit stunning and jarring to see a Tennessee basketball team look so well coached in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, Rick Barnes comes with his own narratives and his own storylines to unpack, but so does Tennessee basketball. So, for Tennessee basketball to look so strong through the regular season and into the NCAA Tournament, I think what you said is perfect. The work that he has done taking that program to these levels of success is probably worth first phrasing.”

Tennessee had endured a four-year tournament drought before they returned to the field last year under Barnes. In 2010, the school made it to the Elite Eight, which is the furthest point it has ever reached in March Madness.

Despite the heartbreaking end for the Volunteers on Thursday night, Patterson was sure that they would be back competing in a similar way next season.

“He’s going to be right back in the mix for an SEC Championship. You’re going to lose Admiral Schofield. You’re going to lose Grant Williams. You’re going to have to restock, but I think the work that has been done over the last two seasons is going to be enough that we have to consider Tennessee a real power in that conference moving forward.”