Tennessee basketball took care of business in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and narrowly defeated the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
Survive and advance; that’s all Tennessee basketball needs to worry about doing right now. Sure, they didn’t destroy Louisiana like I thought they would or would’ve liked to see, but they still pulled out a much-needed victory. This win will go a long way for the Vols; even though it was a close one, the first one is always the most nerve-racking, and now they can settle in a bit more.
Tennessee Basketball defensive breakdowns
Towards the later part of the game, the Vols had built up a substantial 18-point lead and looked like they were putting it in cruise control to the end of the game. However, Louisiana answered back by cutting the lead down to single digits and almost pulled off an upset.
Tennessee basketball’s defense looked like it fell asleep for a bit and needed to get woken up late in the game. It ended up not being a problem for the Volunteers because they won, but it makes me wonder how different it will be if we fall asleep at the wheel against Duke.
Head Coach Rick Barnes had this to say about blowing the 18-point lead:
"“Well, again, they had the ability — they don’t shoot a lot of threes, but we did have some breakdowns defensively. We were going under a couple of times too much on some screens. But then, through that time, too, we weren’t very good offensively, where we missed some shots and missed a couple of free throws.“But again, they’re a good offensive team. We tried to keep them in check as long as we could, but they made the shots.“A couple of them were what we would consider — what we wouldn’t want someone to do against us. We gave them too much space. Even though we got a hand up, it was too late. But again, give them credit. They made the shots, and they knew what they were looking for.“At the end of the game, we made enough plays to get it done.”"
Tennessee basketball’s turnover problem
Even though the Vols were dominating for most of the game, they turned the ball over far too much. They had 18 turnovers, 12 of them being in the first half. If they do this against Duke, it’s hard to believe they will have any chance of beating the hottest team in basketball right now.
Here is what Head Coach Rick Barnes said about the turnovers:
"“Well, we can’t trip over our own feet. We can’t throw the ball to the guys that aren’t looking. It goes back to simple execution. Just instead of trying to get cute on some sets, just call whatever we call, just execute it. It’s really simple.“We ended up with 18 turnovers, but 12 were in the first half. But again, give them credit. They came down — and we had the chance to get in some gaps. They came down and took the ball away from us. You’ve got to give them credit for some of those turnovers. But from our point of view, we’ve got to be cleaner with the ball, there’s no question.”"
Lookahead against Duke
Rick Barnes had this to say about the upcoming matchup against Duke:
"Well, listen — and I really haven’t seen them a lot this year. I haven’t. But I know that they’re probably as hot as any basketball team in the country. I did, while we were at dinner the other night, Jim Boeheim was on with Tony Kornheiser, and they were talking about that he thought Duke was the team that was going to win the National Championship. So that tells you a lot about them, that he would say that at this point in time.“But again, what, they’ve won, 18, 19 out of 20, something like that. But I haven’t seen them a lot. But I know Jon Scheyer has done a great job. I know they had some injuries early in the year and coming down the stretch and when you win your conference tournament. And they beat a good team today.“What little bit I did see, I thought their defense was outstanding against a team that can really shoot the ball. And like I said, they’re a team that probably is as hot as any team in the country right now.”"
The Vols will be taking on Duke on Saturday at 2:40 pm.