Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 73-65 on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena when the offense went cold late for the Vols.
The Vols played hard and dominated early on, but could not control the Vanderbilt offense in the second half. Josh Richardson led the Tennessee scoring effort, but it was not enough to overcome the high powered Vandy shooters when it mattered most.
This was a game of runs and offense as Vanderbilt got out to a quick start – which was quickly matched by Tennessee. Vandy was able to move the ball around to different players early on in the first half. While the Vols struggled early with some ball control issues, they quickly took control of the first half.
Tennessee was led early on offense by Derek Reese who scored seven points in the first half. The Vols also saw an early spark form Devon Baulkman who scored all five of his points in the first half. The Vols led Vanderbilt in second chance points in the first half 13-0 and the Tennessee bench outscored Vandy 12-6.
The Vols main source of offense, Richardson was a no show early in the first half and would go to the locker room with just four points. The first half ended with three lead changes, two of which were 12-0 runs by each team. The Vols led 30-19 at the break.
Vanderbilt changed up their offense in the second half, giving Tennessee plenty of trouble. They stopped focusing as much on playing their big men together and put an emphasis on three point shooting. This gave the Vols headaches in the second half.
“We didn’t guard them right in the second half,” said head coach Donnie Tyndall after the game. Vanderbilt put up 54 points on the Vols in the second half and made their last 13 field goals of the game.
Richardson took over offensively for Tennessee in the second half as they remained in front of the Commodores – for a while. He scored 16 points in the half, finishing with 20 for the night. Richardson also pulled in six rebounds and had five assists, leading the Vols in both of those areas.
Vanderbilt shot 28.6 percent from three point range in the first half, but shot 81.8 percent in the second. Luke Kornet led Vanderbilt with 21 points. “We had trouble guarding the perimeter,” said Tyndall.
The Vols out-rebounded the Commodores 37-19, also accumulating 24 second chance points and five steals. Despite this, Tennessee could not score when it counted as Vandy had all the momentum. When asked about the scoring runs in the game, Tyndall said, “That’s basketball and they’re a good team.”
Tennessee will play Florida in Gainesville at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Edited by Cody McClure
Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman