KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WCHS/WVAH) — The West Virginia Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead but fell to the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville.
The Mountaineers (9-11, 1-6) led by 12 midway through the first half, but fell to No. 1 Tennessee (18-1, 6-0) 83-66 Saturday in the SEC/BIG 12 Showdown.
With 11 minutes remaining in the first half, the Volunteers trailed WVU by 12. It is the largest deficit Tennessee has faced this season. The Volunteers, however, would finish the first half with a flurry of baskets and go into the half leading 31-21.
In the second half both teams shot 59 percent from the field and Tennessee pulled away to defeat the Mountaineers.
Senior Esa Ahmad led the way for the Mountaineers scoring 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Freshman Derek Culver added 15 points for the Mountaineers.
Tennessee junior Lamonte Turner led all scorers with 23 points on 8 of 10 shooting.
The Mountaineers will return to BIG 12 play Wednesday when WVU travels to Aimes to take on No. 24 Iowa State.