Tennessee basketball fell short on the road to the Vanderbilt Commodores last night in shocking fashion.
Tennessee basketball left Nashville last night with their heads low, and confidence was completely gone. They were once the hottest team in basketball, and now they can’t beat teams with records below .500. many factors lead to the loss in this game, but three of them stood out to me.
1) Julian Phillips Had a Freshman Moment
For anyone unaware of what Freshman Julian Phillips did last night, I’ll recap it the best I can:
With less than 20 seconds left in the game, the Vols were leading by 2. Phillips caught the inbound and was running untouched to the basket and could have put the Vols up by 4, with a little over 15 seconds remaining in the game. However, Phillips chose to hold the ball and run off more clock, which really didn’t seem like a horrible decision when I was watching the game live.
However, It came back to bite the Volunteers when Santiago Vescovi missed the front end of a one-and-one and the rest was history. Vanderbilt ran down the court and hit a game-winning 3-pointer to win the game with 0.1 seconds left in the game.
Head coach Rick Barnes had this to say about Phillips:
"“He’s got to (dunk) that,” Barnes said. “I told him you don’t turn down a 100-percent shot. I mean, you’ve got to do that.”"
2) Tennessee Basketball’s defense let them down
Rarely do we see the Vols’ defense let them down, but they did exactly that in this game. Looking at the statistics, the Volunteers let Vandy shoot over 40% from behind the arc, and to no surprise, that’s what killed them in the last play of the game.
The Vols also let Vandy shoot 43% from the field. This just isn’t the way Tennessee basketball is going to win, they need to go back to being the best defensive team in the nation, and go back to being physical hard-nosed basketball that got them ranked No. 2 in the nation just a few weeks ago.
3) Vescovi is back
Yes, I know he missed the front end of the 1-and-1 at the end of the game, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he shot 50% from 3-point land and led the team in points. Vescovi had been struggling lately, and he proved in last night’s game that the shooting slump is over and is back to help lead the Vols into march.