Once again we got off to a horrible start, falling behind 9-0 and taking nearly 4 minutes to score. In the last 4 games, we have been outscored 35-0 before scoring our first points. While we were able to get back into each of those games, it would be nice to not start behind the 8 ball for a change.
Retin was back in the starting lineup, and Cooper started over Levi. Releford did all he could to carry the team with 23 points, and Jacobs had a solid game with 13 points and he even pulled down 6 rebounds. He probably should have played more than 16 minutes. Beyond that, nobody provided much help on offense.
Tennessee is a very good team, but they are inconsistent. McRae is a ball hog, and when he's off they are very average, but when he's on, they can beat anybody in the country. He was 5 for 10 from 3 point range and scored 26 points. Jarnell Stokes dropped 22 on us in the post, despite the fact that our defensive scheme appeared to be designed to limit him.
The defensive game plan made a lot of sense on paper. They have a young, turnover prone PG playing on the road, so we pressed a lot. Give credit to the Vols for taking care of the basketball. In the halfcourt, Stokes was obviously the biggest matchup problem for us, so we ran a lot of 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone to try to deny him the ball and double team him, while hoping McRae would have one of his off nights from outside. Unfortunately, McRae was able to knock down the open shots, which opened things up for Stokes inside. I was disappointed by the lack of defensive adjustments, at some point it became obvious that what we were doing was not going to work, so why not run man for a few possessions just to see what happens?
We were only 3 of 15 from 3 point range. It seemed like everytime we were able to get the deficit back down to a manageable margin, we would give up a big 3 or a 2nd chance basket. Tennessee led wire to wire, and the game was never in doubt after we got within 2 possessions early in the second half.
The student section was nearly full, but the rest of the crowd turnout was not quite as good as it was for the LSU game. Due to the white T-shirts placed on all of the seats, it looked a little more crowded than it actually was. I would guess there was around 9,000 total in the house, and it was loud the 2 or 3 times we actually had something to cheer about. Tennessee brought nearly 1,000 fans clad in their ugly orange that could be heard singing "Rockytop" near the end of the game. I was disappointed with a couple of things from our fans: 1) The students started a "We've got Kiffin" chant when UT started to pull away. It's not like Kiffin did anything worthwhile at UT, but beyond that, I'm not a fan of "football smack talk" at basketball games. It reaffirms the basketball is 2nd rate perception around here, which is another reason I think it's long past time to scrap the iron bowl trophy presentation at halftime, but I digress. 2) A small group of fans started chanting "We want Bruce!" toward the end of the game. First of all, I don't think that's the proper manner in which to express displeasure with the current coaching staff, but beyond that, no matter how much any of us may want Bruce Pearl to become our next basketball coach, it simply is not going to happen. We can argue whether it should happen until we are blue in the face, but I know for a fact he will not be given consideration under any circumstances. I'm not saying I agree with that decision, but it is what it is, so forget about it already.
Up next, we go to Bud Walton arena to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 7pm in Fayetteville, AR Wednesday night. I will be watching this one on the SEC Network. Arkansas has suspended some key players, but they are very tough to beat at home regardless, and until I see this team win away from Coleman, I will have my doubts that they can do it.