July 18, 2024

Four keys for the Vols to upset Vandy

The Tennessee Volunteers face the daunting task of playing a red-hot Vanderbilt squad. Assistant sports editor Jordan Dajani lists four keys for the Vols if they want to pull off the upset.

NASHVILLE,TN - MARCH 09, 2016 - The University of Tennessee Volunteer Basketball Team during the SEC Basketball Tournament game between the Auburn Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

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Slow starts equals losses

Tennessee cannot afford to replicate their slow start against Vandy earlier this month. The double-digit halftime deficit was too much to overcome for the Vols. Tennessee needs to come out fast and focused like they did last night, where they quickly built a 10-0 lead against Auburn.

Contain Wade Baldwin IV

Baldwin IV led the Commodores in both points and assists each time he faced the Vols. He eclipsed his average of 14 points per game in both contests, collecting 42 points altogether with six three pointers. If Tennessee can put ball pressure on him or get him into foul trouble, the outcome will be in their hands.

Control the paint

Vanderbilt won the battle of the boards both times these two teams faced off in the regular season. The Vols needs to box out, and the brunt of that responsibility lies on the shoulders of their tallest player, Derek Reese. Reese had an impressive game last night, finishing just one point shy of a double-double (nine points, 11 rebounds). If he can come out and play like a senior who does not want to leave Tennessee just yet, the Vols have a fighting chance.

Don’t go home

There was a common theme echoed last night in the locker room by head coach Rick Barnes and the players after their blowout win over Auburn: Real players come out in March. Those who want to play show up in these kind of games. Last night, Reese and Armani Moore said that the big-time win over the Tigers reminded them of Tennessee’s run to the Sweet 16 two years ago. They both stated that they wanted to have that feeling of making a run one last time. If the Vols can come out with confidence and the “want-to” they displayed last night, they just might shock Vanderbilt.

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Edited by David Bradford