Takeaways from No. 11 Lady Vols’ loss to Missouri

The Lady Vols (21-6, 9-5 SEC) dropped a second consecutive contest Sunday afternoon to No. 13 Missouri (22-5, 10-4 SEC). This matchup marked the second time Tennessee has lost to the Tigers in the history of the series.

The bench stays short for Warlick

As she has done in many games this season, Holly Warlick played nine players, but three of the bench players only played eight minutes or less.

The bench has talent, but Warlick sticks to her guns when it comes to riding her starters. Jaime Nared played all 40 minutes in the contest. Once again, Mercedes Russell logged substantial play time with 36.

Anastasia Hayes shines as the star off the bench for Warlick. Hayes has not hesitated in proving her worth, but the majority of Tennessee’s bench doesn’t see more than 10 minutes a contest.

Out of the 13 shots taken by bench players, Hayes took 11. She went 4-11 in the game, logging 29 minutes.

Though bench players saw little play time, Warlick made it clear the bench came in and did some good things.

“I’m glad to see them come in. They’re very capable,”Warlick said. “When you’re on the bench you don’t have the luxury of starting the game and settling in. You’ve got to come in and maintain and do better, and I thought they did better for us.”

Even when Tennessee out-rebounds opponents, not a guaranteed win

Before Sunday’s contest, the Lady Vols were 16-1 in games where they out-rebounded opponents. Tennessee won the rebounding tally 30-28 and smashed Missouri on the offensive glass with 14 rebounds to five by Missouri.

Teamwork not there for Lady Vols

The Lady Vols showed effort, but something just didn’t click as Nared seemed to carry the team the majority of the contest. 

Nared scored 25, a team-high, and trailed only Sophie Cunningham of Missouri who dropped in 32. Warlick acknowledged the troubles Cunningham gave the team, as she scored or assisted on 14-of-25 of Missouri’s buckets.

“She’s a competitor and she plays every possession all out,” Warlick said. “She was a handful for us … my hats off to her.”

Nared, logging every minute of the game, is the clear-cut leader besides Mercedes Russell for the Lady Vols. The minutes prove her lead.

Both Russell and Nared average close to 40 minutes per game, but when the bench players come in for the Lady Vols, maybe the chemistry just isn’t there with the lack of minutes they log.

Missouri logged 16 assists on 25 field goals in the game while the Lady Vols were lackluster in the passing lanes. The Lady Vols posted an awful seven assists on 27 field goals in the contest.

If this Lady Vols team is looking to make a deep run, it will have to both extend the bench and get the ball around more. Evina Westbrook posted only two assists behind five turnovers.

Edited by Lexie Little

Feature image courtesy of Channing Curtis

Takeaways from No. 21 Tennessee’s loss to Missouri

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

Defensive Matchup: Cam Sutton vs. Bud Sasser

In one of the most important games of the season for the Tennessee Volunteers and the Missouri Tigers, there is one particular matchup that could have a profound effect on the outcome of the game.

Tennessee’s star sophomore corner, Cam Sutton, will be matched up against Missouri’s best receiver, Bud Sasser. Sasser leads the Tiger’s in catches (52), yards (701) and touchdowns (8). He has been the Tiger’s most consistent receiver and their best deep threat. He is Maty Mauk’s, Missouri’s starting quarterback, security blanket. If he gets off on Saturday night, the Tiger’s running game will have more space.
Cam Sutton has had an excellent sophomore season and is the Vols’ best corner. He has been matched up against the best receiver of every team the Vols have played this season, and has held his own for the most part. He does not have to shut down Sasser, but he has to keep him from having a monster game. A couple of times this year, the Vols have had one receiver destroy them. If Sasser is slowed down the Vols will have a good chance to win the game.

Edited by Will Lomas

Tennessee Defense Ready to Prove Depth

When Tennessee’s signing class of 32 players entered the 2014 season there was no doubt that most of them would be thrown into the mix early. No one ever imagined that two freshmen will start at middle linebacker and free safety in what has become the Vols’ biggest game of the year against Missouri Saturday night under the lights at Neyland.
Todd Kelly Jr. will start at safety Saturday night as Brian Randolph is suspended for the first half due to a targeting penalty against Kentucky. Jakob Johnson will make his first start at middle linebacker in place of AJ Johnson, who is currently being investigated in a sexual assault case that has led to his suspension.

Missouri comes in as a slight underdog against the Vols but the point spread indicates that the game is a toss-up. There are a few key matchups in the game but none more important than the defensive line for the Vols, led by freshman defensive end Derek Barnett, going against the offensive line of Missouri and their turnover-prone quarterback. Barnett leads the defense with nine sacks against opponents and here of late has been playing like an All-American defensive end.
Butch Jones’ tough defense is 37th overall and 30th against the pass this year. If the Vols can pressure Mauk and contain the average Missouri rush then they have a really good shot at haulting an SEC championship for the Tigers and becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

Edited by Will Lomas

Vols vs. Tigers preview

This weekend, Team 118 welcomes the Missouri Tigers for their final game of the 2014 season in Neyland Stadium. Sitting currently at a 5-5 record, the Vols hope to grab a win on Saturday that would make them bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

Outside of bowl eligibility, a win this weekend could show the team’s mental strength after a tough week centered around the suspension of senior star linebacker AJ Johnson and sophomore cornerback Michael Williams. When media has been focused on the allegations brought against these players, the team has been hard at work preparing for an 8-2 Tiger team.

The Vols have found their identity in the SEC’s Cinderella story, Josh Dobbs. At quarterback Dobbs brings confidence and poise that will be needed against a Mizzou team known for their strong defense. Offensively, the Vols must make plays both through the air and on the ground. With positive yardage both ways, it will be tough for the Tiger defense to hold the Vols in the backfield.

Defensively, Tennessee must put the events dealing with Johnson and Williams behind them and focus on stepping into their roles on this side of the ball. Leadership must come from redshirt junior linebacker Curt Maggitt and defensive back phenom Cam Sutton. With successful defensive play, the Vols have a great chance of beating this Missouri team.

Edited by Will Lomas

SEC Roundup- Week 5

The SEC East is mercurial; the SEC West is stacked, and no one really has any idea what to expect on Saturdays anymore.

Tennessee 32 Georgia 35- Tennessee failed to start SEC play with a win for the tenth (Yes, the tenth) year in a row with a 3-point loss in Athens. The Vols hung around with Georgia all game, but Justin Worley’s multi-possession absence due to an elbow injury significantly hindered the Vols’ ability to move the ball. Todd Gurley set a career high in rushing yards with 208 on the ground and just wore down Tennessee’s front seven in the fourth quarter. Although the Vols couldn’t pull out a win, they showed Georgia and the rest of the SEC East that they are very close to competing for a division title.

Missouri 21 South Carolina 20– In a near mirror image of last year’s meeting, Missouri’s Russell Hansbrough scored his third rushing touchdown with 1:36 to play to cap a 14-point fourth quarter comeback and beat South Carolina in Columbia. Missouri’s win makes them the only SEC East team that is undefeated in conference play at 1-0, good enough for first place in the division. South Carolina drops to 2-2 in conference play and second in the division.

Texas A&M 35 Arkansas 28- Kenny Hill hit Malcome Kennedy for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime, and the Aggie defense stopped Arkansas on a 4th and 2 to survive an upset attempt. The Aggies came back from a 28-14 halftime deficit to remain undefeated and on top of the SEC West standings. Arkansas moves to 3-2 overall (0-2 in conference play) and to the bottom of the SEC West.

Vanderbilt 7 Kentucky 17- After not being able to close out SEC East opponent Florida two weeks ago in Gainesville, Kentucky did what it needed to Saturday against Vandy. The Wildcat defense held Vandy to just 139 total yards and forced 3 fourth quarter turnovers to keep the Commodore offense out of the endzone for the second game this season. Kentucky’s first SEC win in nearly two years moves them to 5th in the SEC East standings, while Vandy remained winless in SEC play and sits at the bottom of the SEC East.

Edited by Will Lomas