No. 21 Tennessee fell to Missouri and former head coach Cuonzo Martin 59-55 on Wednesday night, as the Vols couldn’t find a rhythm on offense despite turning in a solid outing on the defensive end of the floor.
These are the biggest takeaways from Martin’s win to snap Tennessee’s three-game winning streak.
Vols didn’t come ready to play.
Tennessee started off on the right note, but that quickly faded. The Vols were 3-for-3 to start the game from three, but then quit knocking down shots from the perimeter. On the night, Tennessee shot 39 percent from the field, 24 percent from three and 62 percent from the free throw line. After knocking down their first three 3’s of the game, the Vols only made two the remainder of the game.
Rick Barnes’ squad never trailed in the first half, as both teams entered the half tied at 27-all. After the quick start, Tennessee never regained the lead as its sense of urgency slipped away.
Like the Auburn game a few weeks back, Tennessee didn’t come ready to play for a full 40 minutes and as a result, got out-worked. Between silly turnovers, poor shot selection and stagnant offensive possessions, the Vols didn’t even look like a top 25 team on Wednesday night.
Once Tennessee learns to bring it for 40 minutes every night, it’ll be a great team, but as of today, the Vols are just a good team with a lot of potential.
Need more production out of the guards.
Grant Williams may have had a team-high 15 points, but even he had a rough night as he fouled out after shooting just 5-of-12 from the field and only hauling in five rebounds. Outside of Kyle Alexander – who scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting – nobody had a nice outing. Combined with Admiral Schofield’s 11 points, the frontcourt combined to have a decent, but not good, outing. It was enough to win, but the big men received zero help from the guards and that’s the biggest reason Tennessee picked up its fifth loss of the season.
Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner, James Daniel and Chris Darrington are the guards who pick up the most minutes on this basketball team. On Wednesday night, the group combined to shoot just 4-for-23 from the field.
That can’t happen, especially from Bone and Bowden who start every game. The pair of sophomores combined for three points on 1-of-13 shooting against Missouri. If the Vols want to reach the level they’re capable of, they’re going to need better guard play going forward because you can’t be successful in college basketball if your primary ball-handlers aren’t producing.
Offense lets the defense down.
For the most part, Tennessee’s defense did a great job of slowing down a Missouri offense that possesses some impressive playmakers.
The top four leading scorers for Missouri are Kassisus Robertson (15.6 ppg), Jordan Barnett (14.8 ppg), Kevin Puryear (9.5) and Jeremiah Tilmon (8.7 ppg). Tennessee held three of the four to below their average, specifically Robertson and Barnett. On the night, Robertson and Barnett scored just nine a piece.
Mizzou averages 76.1 points per game, and the Vols bottled the Tigers offense up, holding them to just 59 points on 41 percent shooting and forcing 12 turnovers. Martin’s team usually fills it up from the three-point line, but against Tennessee, Missouri was just 4-of-18 and didn’t make its first three until the second half.
A little more offensive production and the Vols likely leave Columbia with a win.
Former Tennessee coaches are 2-0 against the Vols this year.
Turn away Vol fans. Tennessee has lost to both its former coaches this season following the four-point loss to Missouri. Against Auburn a couple of weeks ago, Tennessee fell to the Tigers and Bruce Pearl 84-94.
Luckily for the Vols, they won’t face another former head coach for the remainder of the regular season. At this point, it’s a great thing Buzz Peterson is no longer coaching.
It’s to the point where I’m convinced that if Derek Dooley or Butch Jones ever become head coaches again, there’s a 100 percent chance that they would pick up a win over the Vols. For Tennessee’s sake, it better hope it doesn’t matchup with Lane Kiffin any time soon.
Edited by Seth Raborn
Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics