The return of Bruce Pearl to the bench didn’t help the Tennessee men’s basketball team Saturday at Connecticut.

The Volunteers (12-7, 2-2 SEC) couldn’t find consistent scoring in the second half, falling to the eighth-ranked Huskies (16-2, 4-2 Big East) 72-61.

“We’re disappointed,” Pearl said. “We have to play really well to beat UConn at UConn. We did some good things, but turning the ball over was key. Some of that was UConn, some of that was us.”

Melvin Goins led the Vols with 15 points. The senior point guard also added six rebounds and five assists.

“Melvin Goins played terrific for Tennessee,” Pearl said. “He played great defense. He shot the ball well. He competed.”

Junior guard Scotty Hopson had 13 points, but didn’t have his best game, especially on the defensive end of the court.

“It’s hard for Tennessee to beat UConn on the road when Scotty Hopson, one of our best players, doesn’t play well,” Pearl said.

Huskies’ coach Jim Calhoun said the game plan was to not let Hopson beat them, which Hopson did to the Vols’ two other Big East opponents, Villanova and Pittsburgh.

“We wanted to keep Hopson, who’s a future pro, in check,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun believed the key to the game was containing the Vols’ freshman forward Tobias Harris.

“The biggest thing is we didn’t want Tobias, who’s just a terrific player, to be able to put the ball on the deck and go past (us),” Calhoun said.

Harris scored 10 points, but wasn’t as involved in the Vols’ offense as he usually is.

“We probably didn’t put it into Tobias’ hands enough," Pearl said.

Defensively, the Vols held the nation’s No. 2 scorer nine points below his season average. UConn guard Kemba Walker scored 16 points and was held scoreless for the game’s first 15 minutes.

“I think Bruce (Pearl) did a great job of making sure there were always two people around whenever Kemba touched the ball,” Calhoun said.

UT limited Walker to just 6-of-17 shooting from the field, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range.

Still, Walker managed to score eight points in the final 5:23 of the first half, including a three to end the half, giving UConn a 32-31 lead at the break.

“I thought Walker was terrific,” Pearl said. “He got the other guys involved. I thought there were times we left shooters without purpose.”

Three other Huskies scored in double-figures besides Walker.

“UConn’s playing better when those other guys play like this,” Pearl said. “It makes them a harder cover. It will open up the lane a little bit more on the inside.”

The Huskies were extremely efficient from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Roscoe Smith shot a career-high 4-of-5 from 3-point range and scored 12 points.

“UConn averages six 3-pointers a game, they made nine,” Pearl said. “They beat us on the offensive boards. That’s where we lost the basketball game.”

 Pearl announced after the game that freshman guard Jordan McRae was suspended indefinitely for violation of team conduct rules.

“Jordan has exhibited some behavior recently that is unacceptable and a distraction to the team,” Pearl said. “We’ll deal with this issue in-house, and my hope is that Jordan will use this as a learning and maturation opportunity.

“Jordan has coaches and teammates who all love and support him. We all want him to be an important member of the Tennessee basketball family. But that is a privilege, and he knows what’s expected of him.”

McRae traveled with the team to Connecticut, but was not with the team at the arena on Saturday.