ST. LOUIS - The same competitive fire that enabled J.P. Prince to help lead Tennessee to its first Elite Eight appearance burned deep into Sunday's post-game interviews.
"It's over, we got to live with it and be a man about it, but the way you end your career is what you remember,'' Prince said. "With 1.8 seconds on the clock, a whistle blows, and it determines your fate, and instead of overtime they go to the Final Four.
"I'll have to watch the replay and see what happened. I don't think I fouled him."
Prince was called for a foul on Michigan State senior Raymar Morgan with the game tied at 69-69. Morgan hit an ensuing free throw that lifted the Spartans to a 70-69 victory over the Vols in the Midwest Regional championship at the Edward Jones Dome.
Prince, who along with fellow senior Wayne Chism represented UT on the five-man Midwest Regional All-Region team, enjoyed another strong tournament performance with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor and 2 of 2 from the free-throw line to go with his team-high five assists.
Prince scored in double figures in all four of the NCAA tournament games (15, 18, 14, 12) on 23-of-36 (.639) shooting, but he said he'll be haunted after being called for the pivotal foul.
UT junior Brian Williams was a step late getting back on defense on Michigan State's final possession, but had managed to establish position on Morgan. Prince left his assigned man to provide help on defense.
"If there was no question about it, that would be one thing,'' Prince said. "I think he lost the ball on his way up and it hit my elbow.
"I just think at the end of the game you let the players win the game. There was a lot of rough playing, and a lot of bodies falling out there.''
Coach Bruce Pearl said UT shouldn't have allowed itself to get put in that position.
"They got the ball way too close to the basket; they got way too good a look,'' Pearl said. "If we had gotten back better and been matched up better, and if the look wasn't such a high-percentage location, then you begin to maybe be concerned that the game was won or lost on a free throw.
"And so regardless of the contact, it was a foul. If we did a better job getting matched up, then we wouldn't have gotten it that close, then we don't put ourselves in the position.''
Player Futures: UT sophomore Scotty Hopson issued a "no comment" when asked if he was returning for his junior year.
Hopson, who indicated throughout the season he'd likely return, was 3-of-7 shooting from the floor and 3 of 6 from the free throw line for 10 points with three rebounds and an assist against Michigan State.
Pearl said he'll submit paperwork to the NBAdraft evaluation committee on behalf of Hopson.
Junior walk-on Josh Bone, who played eight minutes Sunday, said he plans to return.
Sophomore Renaldo Woolridge said before the start of the NCAA tournament he planned on returning for his junior year.
Departures: Pearl said he'll accompany Wayne Chism and Prince to the Portsmouth Invitational pre-draft seniors camp, and he plans to get Bobby Maze into the field.
"I hope fans remember me as a guy who wanted so bad to win and to represent Tennessee,'' Maze said. "I played as hard as I could.''
Chism finished his career as UT's all-time NCAA tournament leader for rebounds (157) and scoring (136) and ranks 12th all-time in career scoring.
In Attendance: UT football coach Derek Dooley and former UT basketball star Allan Houston were in attendance.
"It was an unbelievable experience seeing them on this stage,'' Houston said. "I was extremely proud of their effort. They've been tough, and they showed a lot of heart.
"I think this is really big for the program, and it's a huge step.''
All-Region Team: In addition to Prince and Chism, Michigan State's Durrell Summers and Draymond Green were selected to the Midwest Regional's All-Region team, as was Ohio State's Evan Turner.
Summers, who scored a game-high 21 points, was named the Most Outstanding Player.
Broken Trends: Sunday's game marked the first time UT has lost when leading with five minutes left (27-1), and only the second time the Vols have lost when leading at the half (19-2).
It was also the first time UT has lost when out-shooting an opponent (26-1) and the second time the Vols have lost when UT has been even with or out-rebounded an opponent (18-2).
Additionally, it was the Vols first loss when shooting 50 percent or better (9-1).
The Vols had won 10 straight when Prince scored in double figures, too.