As one of the youngest teams in America, Tennessee got a lesson in March basketball in Thursday's 59-57 SEC Tournament loss to Georgia.
Admiral Schofield's three-point attempt for the win clanged off the iron in the final seconds and Grant Williams' outback attempt was blocked away as the buzzer sounded.
"It was wide open and I've got to knock that down," Schofield said. "I shoot that shot all the time, but rushed it a little bit."
Tennessee was in position to tie or win the game in the final possession thanks to a consistent effort on the defensive end of the floor for the entire game. The Vols held the Bulldogs to just 43 percent shooting, giving them repeated chances to take the lead in the second half.
"I'm really proud of our team," Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. "They played their hearts out today. They didn't shoot it well, but there wasn't a time I didn't think they competed."
But the Vols shot just 32.8 percent from the field for the game and got just six points apiece from Robert Hubbs III and Williams, who was plagued by foul trouble throughout the game.
Tennessee also saw firsthand what tournament experience can mean as Georgia upperclassmen J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten willed the Bulldogs to the finish line in the second half. The 5-10 Frazier scored 17 points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds and Maten returned from injury to chip in 12 points.
Now that the Vols have been in this position and seen the bright lights of the March stage and felt the pressure of the postseason, maybe that will help them next season and beyond when tourney time comes around.
"They learned in the in the last three weeks how difficult it is to be a postseason team," Barnes said. "They learned its tough to get there."
The talent is there. Williams is a star in the making and the freshmen backcourt of Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden and Jordan Bone combined for 34 points Thursday.
With a solid recruiting class on the way, expectations will be much higher than a 16-16 record with no postseason tournament in year three of the Rick Barnes era.
"That's how it should be," Barnes said. We want those type of expectations in our program."
Tennessee will be ready when tournament play comes around next season, and they're already looking forward to having a better showing.
On Thursday they learned just how quickly it all can end.