CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Trae Golden scored 11 points and the Tennessee men's basketball team came back from a 15-point deficit to pull within four points in the final minute, but Virginia made key free throws in the closing seconds to edge the Vols, 46-38, on Thursday in John Paul Jones Arena.
Despite playing good defense, Tennessee (4-3) struggled from the floor, shooting just 28.8 percent (15-of-52) in the loss. The Cavaliers (7-2) managed just 35.8 percent field-goal shooting (19-of-53) to improve their home record to 6-1.
Golden's slashing offense in the paint and Jarnell Stokes' game-high nine rebounds kept Tennessee in the game, but the Vols were not able to climb all the way back from their early deficit.
Trailing 25-16 at halftime, Tennessee came out of the break with a strong effort to pull within four points early on. Golden drained a pair of free throws just over a minute into the second period and Skylar McBee made a 3-pointer off a screen on the right side to bring Tennessee to within 25-21 with 18:11 remaining.
Virginia answered with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to grow its lead to 36-21. Golden stepped up with a 3-pointer from top right side and Yemi Makanjuoula added a put-back layup to narrow UVa's lead to 10 points with 11:50 left.
Looking to score in transition, UVa's Teven Jones was barreled through the lane only to run into Kenny Hall, who drew his team-high fourth charge of the season with 9:19 remaining. On the ensuing UT possession, Jordan McRae hit a three from top left side of the arc to bring the Vols to within 38-31 with 8:58 on the clock. Hall made two free throws a minute later and Tennessee crept to within five.
With 1:30 left and Virginia ahead, 42-34, McRae drove into the paint from the left side and slammed one home to make it a six-point game. Stokes tipped in a put-back off a missed 3-pointer by McBee with 39 seconds left to pull UT to within 42-38.
McBee fouled Jones with 32 seconds left as Tennessee sent the game to the free-throw line. Jones made both free throws and Paul Jesperson made two more free throws with 20 seconds left to ice the win for the Cavaliers.
The game started off slow as both teams combined to shoot just 7-of-26 (UT was 3-of-11 and UVa was 4-of-15) in the first 10 minutes of action. Akil Mitchell's layup at the 9:57 mark of the first half opened an 11-0 run for Virginia over the next 4:51 as the Cavaliers' lead grew to 21-6.
Tennessee ended a 5:51 scoring drought when Golden made a layup with 5:09 on the clock. That bucket opened an 10-4 Tennessee run to close the period, including three big dunks by Hall. Josh Richardson drained a jumper from the top left side of the lane with six seconds remaining to pull the Vols to within 25-16 heading into halftime.
Neither team could find its stroke from downtown in the first half as the Vols were 0-of-8 and the Cavs were 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. UT played strong first-half defense, limiting Virginia to just 39.3 percent shooting (11-of-28), but struggled offensively, hitting at just a 32 percent clip (8-of-25) while committing nine turnovers. Hall led the team with six points on 3-of-6 shooting before the break.