No. 18 Tennessee (19-7, 9-5 SEC) experienced another upset Saturday night in a game against Georgia (15-11, 6-8). The Vols never held a sturdy lead at any point. Here are the takeaways from Tennessee’s 73-62 loss in Stegeman Coliseum.
Pretenders or contenders?
National and local media hyped up the Vols in recent weeks.
Some claimed the Vols could land a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, but Tennessee hasn’t been performing well since the hype began.
After dropping a road game to Alabama, the Vols followed it up with a terrible loss in front of a sold out Georgia crowd. If Tennessee wants to be a contender and not a pretender, it will have to learn to win big conference road games.
Tennessee started the season hot, winning neutral-site games over Purdue and NC State, but if this team wants to be a top-3 seed, it will have to learn how to pull out rivalry wins.
Young Vols will learn to put pressure on opponents
Down two points with under five minutes to go in the second half, coach Rick Barnes was unimpressed with his team’s decision making.
The Vols elected to take a three-pointer instead of putting pressure on the Bulldogs.
“Some of those 3’s at the end of the game, we still have time,” Barnes said. “It’s just being selfish and not understanding the game. When a team misses the front end of a one-and-one … just go down and get a point back, opposed to trying to heave up a desperation shot.”
Although Barnes was upset with his young team, he praised the Bulldog’s effort and the way they played.
“Gotta give them credit, last five minutes of the game they beat us,” Barnes said. “Any way you wanna beat somebody, they beat us.”
This team needs a star, and Barnes has his pick
Grant Williams consistently anchors inside for this Tennessee squad, and Barnes holds the bar high for his sophomore forward.
“We’re gonna see if he’s the player he wants to be. This is the time of the year where key guys step up and they play,” Barnes said. “He wasn’t very good with his defensive coverage. He didn’t execute that the way we wanted him to.”
Williams posted only five points in 25 minutes on the night for Tennessee. The Bulldogs held Williams to 1-of-8 shooting and only four rebounds.
Kyle Alexander, on the other hand, anchored Tennessee on the night, posting his second career double-double with 10 points and 13 boards.
If Tennessee wants to make a deep run, it will need both Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams to show up in the same night.
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics