NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Robert Hubbs III figured the Vanderbilt Commodores would try to defend against a 3-pointer at the end of regulation. So Tennessee's sophomore guard just took the ball all the way to the basket.
He banked in a layup that beat the buzzer and forced overtime.
"I just didn't want to settle," Hubbs said. "And I drove it and made the play."
Then Kevin Punter hit two free throws with 1:18 left in overtime, giving Tennessee the lead for good as the Volunteers rallied and beat Vanderbilt 76-73 Wednesday night.
"This guy here we preach all the time not to settle for jump shots," Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall said. "He drove the ball deep to the paint on that final shot and made a tough play to force overtime. It was really one of those games that could've gone either way. We were fortunate to make a play or two more than they did in overtime."
With the win, the Volunteers (14-9, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) snapped a two-game skid and finally showed they can close out an opponent after they failed to tie or take the lead in the final minute in their last three losses. This time, they trailed 65-60 with 16.4 seconds left in regulation before Hubbs dribbled up-court and banked in a bucket that forced overtime.
Then Josh Richardson opened overtime with a 3-pointer capping a 10-2 spurt by Tennessee.
Vanderbilt (13-11, 3-8 SEC) missed its chance at a third straight win, going 3 of 6 at the free throw line in the final seconds of regulation. They also led 73-72 with 1:57 left in overtime after a layup by James Siakam but didn't score again. Riley LaChance had one final chance to force a second overtime, but his 3 hit off the backboard in the final seconds.
"That was tough to swallow," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "I thought we executed poorly at the end and in overtime. The story of the game was our missed free throws, especially toward the end of the game."
Richardson finished with 27 points. Armani Moore added 13 points, Derek Reese tied his career-high with 12 points, and Punter had 10.
Damian Jones led Vanderbilt with 16 points. Siakam had 14 and Jeff Roberson added 12.
Only 181 miles separate these in-state rivals, and Tennessee's first-year coach did his part by wearing the orange blazer made famous by the late Ray Mears. The Commodores wore the "Our State" T-shirts handed out to the student section in pregame warmups.
This game lived up to the rivalry as neither team led by more than six points. They swapped the lead 15 times overall, and Tennessee closed the half on an 8-2 run for a 35-32 lead at the break.
SHOOTING WOES: Vanderbilt hit its first five 3-pointers to open the game, then the Commodores hit only one of their final 12 attempts. LaChance was 1 of 7 beyond the arc. The Commodores had a big advantage at the free throw line (17 of 30) compared to Tennessee (10 of 13) but couldn't hit when it mattered most. Vanderbilt also outshot Tennessee 49 percent to 47.5 percent and had a 35-29 edge in rebounds.
OWN GOAL: Richardson wound up tipping in a basket for Vanderbilt with 3:33 left in regulation trying to rebound the ball after a missed free throw.
Tennessee came in having forced at least 18 turnovers in four straight games, and the Volunteers lead the SEC averaging 7.8 steals per game. They forced 16. ... The Vols improved to 10-1 when leading at the half.
Vanderbilt played without starting guard Shelton Mitchell for a second straight game because of a concussion suffered in practice last week. ... With their instate rival in the building, the Commodores had a season-high 11,892 in attendance. ... Vandy now has five losses by three points.
Tennessee: Host LSU on Saturday
Vanderbilt: At Alabama on Saturday