Vols' Defensive Problems Cost the Game 80-78 subject logo: COLSPORTS
Posted by: badanov

To us the big upset of the week was Kentucky versus Tennessee.

Well, then again, maybe not...

Even though the AP only last week declared Tennessee regular season champs of the SEC East, we discovered that mathematically, they didn't at that time. Two unusual things would have to happen.

One: Florida would have to win their next three games and ...

Two: Tennessee would have to drop their next three.

Tennessee has been doing their dead level best to make Two happen, losing to Arkansas last week at home and then to Kentucky, again at home.

Tennessee has one more regular season game left when they go to Vanderbilt, itself a team entering into SEC with high hopes but falling to the rough and tumble league play that is the SEC.

A friend of ours, a Razorback fan, told us that as good as Tennessee is, they are very weak in the front and back court when it comes to the paint.

What we saw in the Kentucky game was a team that was very much fighting hard against dribble penetrations, and trying to take advantage of their outside and long range shooting. A couple of times for the parts of the game we did catch, Tennessee would hit three pointers at just the right time to drive the Vols ahead to eight and ten points.

The problem for them, was that Kentucky wasn't going down without a fight. That great Vol man to man defense they laid out for Kentucky did show a glaring weakness in their close defense of the basket.

In this game it was old fashioned defense which won it for the Wildcats, holding Tennessee to 49 percent from the field while the Vols let 60 percent of Wildcat field goals go in.

For a team as highly ranked as Tennessee (10th) that statistic has got to be embarrassing.

The Arkansas game just last Saturday, Arkansas was held to 47 percent from the field but Tennessee was held to 43 percent, ultimately along with three pointers the difference for the Vols.

Our guess is that Tennessee will beat Vandy, but not by much, but we doubt the Vols will be able to handle a truly inspired close defense of the basket that LSU had when they meet in the SEC championship game, which we expect they will. The LSU home game the Vols played against the Tigers was a blowout 88-74, with a showing in defense similar to the Kentucky game.

Tennessee is virtually assured a spot in the NCAA but we suspect the first time they encounter a slashing type defense in the paint, the Vols will fold.

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