Tennessee Basketball: Three Takeaways from Vols’ 75-63 Loss to TCU Horned Frogs

Tennessee basketball fell to 10-11 with a 75-63 loss to the TCU Horned Frogs in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. Here are three takeaways from the Volunteers loss.

It was another brutal collapse. The Tennessee Vols blew a 14-point halftime lead to lose to the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth Saturday 75-63.

The Volunteers have had some bad second halves this season, but this one was special. In the midst of blowing another double-digit lead, it wasn’t just the atrocious second-half three point shooting, the lack of half-court offense, and the lack of size that cost this team.

It was also terrible transition defense and foul trouble.

Rick Barnes has continued to talk about needing more effort from the Vols, but that didn’t even seem to be the problem in this game. It appeared to be serious mental mistakes and basic things working against the team.

And it was also arguably the worst loss the Vols have had all season, as TCU is still an awful basketball team. The worst team in the Big 12 was able to move up to 10-11 on the year with the win.

So with another embarrassing collapse, here are three takeaways from Tennessee’s loss to TCU.

1. The Vols’ offense relies entirely around the law of averages

It’s a ridiculous idea. If I flip a coin 100 times and the first 99 it lands on heads, that does not increase the chances that it will land on tails the 100th time. The same is true for Tennessee’s three-point shooting.

Unfortunately, the law of averages is significantly working against them at this point. Tennessee went 8-of-16 from three in the first half, but with just as many great looks in the second half, they were 0-for-13. It’s the oddest thing. TCU made no adjustments on defense to stop them from getting good looks.

The Vols just began inexplicably missing them. This has been the story of the season for this team. Losses have almost always correlated with terribly low three-point shooting percentages, and this game was no different, despite a great first half. If the season is to turnaround, it will probably entirely depend on the law of averages.

Barnes really can’t do anything else, which leads us to our next point.

2. Tennessee has no half-court sets on offense

It is beyond clear at this point that the Vols’ offense is entirely based on transition buckets and jacking up three-pointers. That’s what has made these blown leads so frustrating, and it leads us to this question: is this the fault of Barnes or the personnel?

Barnes has consistently said personnel is no excuse with the team he has this year, but at the same time, the only excuse for his offense looking so bad is that he has no size down low. And if that’s not an excuse, the constant jacking of three-pointers falls back on him.

This probably goes back to the law of averages point, as they go hand-in-hand, because Barnes probably feels that his team’s free throw shooting should indicate that it’s good enough to make up for its lack of size with solid three-point shooting.

So maybe it’s just the buckets not falling more than anything Barnes is doing, particularly when there have been so many good looks. But it is clear they have nothing else on offense.

3. Transition defense is pathetic

Tennessee is not that bad defensively given the way the Vols stress tempo. But transition defense has been awful all season long, and it was taken to another level on Saturday.

TCU only shot 41 percent from the field, but they put up 48 second-half points after being held to only 27 points in the first half. Where did it all come from?

It came from too many missed shots by Tennessee. For some reason, they had serious trouble getting back on defense to stop plays, and if they were getting back they would be fouling. So it was awful all the way around, and it’s something that should be much better given the athleticism of this team.

This is the one inexcusable weakness of the Vols at this point, and they need to fix it.