Yesterday night, February 1st, Tennessee basketball finally came back down to earth in their loss against the Florida Gators.
It was only a matter of time until the Tennessee basketball cooled off from the heater that they had been on. Before last night’s game, they were destroying teams left and right. It was simply just not our night, and that’s okay because luckily for Volunteer fans, it’s not march yet.
There were three big takeaways that I took from the loss:
Tennessee basketball’s offense needs to help their defense
There’s no denying that the Volunteer defense is the best in the country, but having an elite defense tends to not matter as much if they can’t score on the offensive side. The Vols looked like they literally could not make a shot if they were shooting it into the middle of the ocean last night. The Vols shot 27% from the field and had to completely rely on their defense to get back into the game, and it almost worked.
The Vols climbed back from a 14-point deficit and ended up taking a lead for a short time in the second half. However, it ended up not being enough because they simply couldn’t score, and the defense got tired.
Basketball is a game of runs, and one of the best parts about the Volunteers’ defense is their ability to not let teams go on big runs against them. They are fundamentally sound and are the best team in the nation at not allowing teams to go on big runs against them.
However, the Gators went on so many runs last game that the defense ultimately just fell apart because it was a constant offensive explosion all game, and the Vols simply couldn’t weather the storm at the end of the game.
Teams are finding ways to exploit Tennessee basketball’s weaknesses
The Vols have only lost four games this year, but there is a common trend that has happened in all four games:
The Gators found a way to get the Volunteers into foul trouble early and shut down their two most dynamic offensive players; Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James. They combined for 1-of-11 from the three-point range and 4-of-23 from the field. The Vols nearly doubled the Gators in personal fouls, which caused them to have to play cautious on defense, and less aggressively on offense. This is the recipe for disaster because the vols are one of the most aggressive and physical teams in the nation, which makes them so good.
The Wildcats out-rebounded the Volunteers by 20, which caused so many second-chance opportunities. Furthermore, Kentucky also kept the Vols to shooting only 14% from 3-point range. Kentucky found ways to make the Vols uncomfortable, which is why they came out with the win.
Tennessee honestly played a very good game against Arizona, but the defense was overwhelmed against their offense. There have only been two teams this year that have scored 75 or more points against the Vols; Arizona and Colorado, both of which were losses.
This was the second game of the season, so there’s not much to talk about. Tennessee basketball just had one of those early season games that all teams have and lost an easy one on the road.
The Vols will have revenge on their minds Saturday
The Volunteers return home on Saturday to take on the Auburn Tigers. This is a top-25 matchup and one that I am eagerly looking forward to. The Vols have been able to respond well all year to adversity, and I am confident they will show why the game yesterday was just a bump in the road.