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NCAA Basketball Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers Must Start Winning to Save 2014 NCAA Tournament Hopes

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers were cruising at halftime as they led over the Texas A&M Aggies 32-18 at halftime. However, the Volunteers went cold from the field in the second half as the Aggies outscored the Vols 39-24, hit a three at the end and left Knoxville with a 57-56 victory.

The Volunteers couldn’t contain Jamal Jones as he led all scorers with 23 points. Jeronne Maymon manhandled Texas A&M on the glass, but there was just really no player on Tennessee’s squad who stepped up and scored when they needed it. Late missed free throws also gave the Aggies the opportunity to win; sloppy play will not get the Volunteers to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee cannot drop many more games to weaker opposition if they want to make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Vols didn’t win the games that they had to in non-conference play and, despite the SEC being one of the tougher conferences in college basketball, won’t turn many heads with wins and losses over mid-range teams.

Because of their loss to the Aggies, Tennessee’s game on Jan. 18 against the Kentucky Wildcats became a must-win. The Vols have what it takes to defeat the preseason No. 1 overall team, but they can’t make the mental mistakes that have plagues them all season. The Volunteers are a top three team in the SEC, but they have to start playing like it soon or they could find themselves on the outside looking in to the NCAA Tournament once again.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google