The Vols are eighth among the 12 SEC teams in field-goal percentage at 43.8. That's down from 45.6 last year.
The Vols are 11th among the 12 SEC teams in 3-point percentage at 30.5. That's down from 32.0 last year.
The Vols are seventh among the 12 SEC teams in assists, averaging just 13.5 per game. That's down from 14.3 last year.
The Vols are 10th among the 12 SEC teams in turnovers, averaging 15.2 per game. That's up from 13.2 last year.
So, when head coach Bruce Pearl says the biggest problem facing his 2010-11 team is offensive execution, the numbers back him up.
Noting "real inconsistency on the offensive end," the coach added that "I'd say this week I've got to spend some time teaching and re-teaching our offense - the intricacies and the purpose. Unless I call a play or we have numbers in the fast break, we're not getting good enough looks to satisfy me."
Pearl noted that freshman Tobias Harris has been "the most consistent performer we've had," adding that the rest of his players have been "consistently inconsistent."
Tennessee functioned like a well-oiled machine in an 83-76 upset of No. 3 Pitt on Dec. 11, then suffered three upset losses in a row - to Oakland, at Charlotte and to Southern Cal. Pearl said the common denominator in those setbacks was obvious.
"The losses all came down to a need to have some offensive execution down the stretch," the coach said. "Every one of them."
Tennessee's offensive execution has been especially poor over the past three games. Consider:
- The Vols shot just 34.9 percent from the field and 11.8 percent from 3 in the 49-48 loss at Charlotte on Dec. 17, complicating matters by posting more turnovers (11) than assists (8).
- The Vols shot just 38.3 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from 3 in a 65-64 home-floor loss to Southern Cal on Dec. 21, again posting more turnovers (18) than assists (11).
- The Vols shot just 37.7 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3 in a 66-65 defeat of Belmont on Dec. 23, breaking even on turnovers and assists (13 of each).
The lack of consistency on offense also has caused Tennessee to blow several comfortable leads this season.
This was the case in Game 2 vs. Belmont, when the Vols saw a 71-54 second-half lead whittled to one point (77-76) with 36 seconds left. It happened again in Game 7 vs. Pitt, when the Vols saw a 61-40 lead reduced to seven (83-76) by game's end. It happened again in Game 8 vs. Oakland, when the Vols squandered a 61-48 second-half lead and lost 89-82. It happened yet again in the Game 11 rematch with Belmont, when the Vols saw a 35-23 halftime bulge reversed into a one-point deficit twice inside the final minute.
"Obviously, we've got to finish plays," Pearl said. "It's why we lost those close games and it's why we lost some of the margins that we've had. We've had great leads. A lot of games we've lost we led in. A lot of times it's (caused) from going into some serious droughts."
The coach complained that "I don't think our effort is very good offensively," but suggested there are even bigger problems at work.
"It's our focus, our discipline, our purpose," the coach said. "What's your purpose on each possession? That's lacking tremendously."