Vols blowout Lenoir-Rhyne: 3 observations

Tennessee goes 2 for 2 in exhibition games in 2014. Check out three observations to take from Saturday's game against Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday night.

1. Tennessee turned the press into easy baskets

Donnie Tyndall had his team working the 1-2-2 full court press, which would drop back into a 1-3-1 during parts of the game. After the first 10 to 12 minutes of the game, Tennessee constantly put the pressure on with different defensive looks. Lenoir-Rhyne struggled to get anything going at that point. When they weren’t coughing the ball up, they were having to break out of double-teams, rush passes and rush shots.

Late in the first half the Vols got back-to-back steals off of the 1-2-2 full court press that led to a lay-up and a dunk. The next possession should have led to third straight turnover but Dominic Woodson was not able to get to the ball before a player in maroon did. The play resulted in a missed lay-up for the Bears. Tennessee got another steal and dunk late in the first half. This time it was Richardson throwing it down.

Those were just three of Lenoir-Rhyne’s 11 first half turnovers. They would match that total in the second half.

Overall the Tennessee defense, switching from a three-quarter-court trapping defense to a full-court press, got a steal or a block on nine Lenoir Rhyne possesions. It also led to rushed passes and rushed shots once we got past the half-way point of the first half.

With about six minutes left in the game, the Tennessee defense impressed again as the press created three straight steals. The first two Richardson took the ball away and went all the way to the tin himself. He missed the second one but a teammate was there to tap it in. Richardson would score on the third turnover as well.

Tennessee held the Bears to just 21 points in the second half.

2. Lenoir-Rhyne got some open looks early.

In the first 10 minutes of tonight’s contest, the Bears were able to get the ball to the middle of the zone. From there they could work the high-low or kick-out opposite for open three-point shots.

Ten times in the first half the Bears were able to get wide open looks. Even with most coming from beyond-the-arc, there were times when Lenoir-Rhyne was able to penetrate the zone and get open lay-ups.

Will Perry was looking like the right-handed version of K.K. Simmons. The junior from Wake Forest had the Bears' first 8 points. Just like on Monday, it was Tennessee not recognizing and finding the shooter on the floor.

Once Tennessee’s defense stepped up they held Perry to just six points the rest of the way.

3. Offensively things haven't been pretty

Other than a few possessions that resulted in good looks for the Vols, the half-court offense was not too impressive. That tends to happen when you don’t have a point guard.

I will have to re-watch to make sure this is correct: In the first half, I counted just one Tennessee basket that came after 3 or more passes in the half court.

Tennessee showed glimpses of successful ball movement, leading to open shots in the second half. Some good passing around the perimeter led to triples from Derek Reese and Josh Richardson on a couple of occasions.

In the last few minutes of the game, Detrick Mostella caught a pass in the corner for an open three but made the smarter play of ball-faking, going base-line and throwing down a two-handed slam.

There were some good moments and Tennessee did cut their turnovers in half. From 18 in Monday’s game to nine tonight. Still, 4 of 17 from three and just 77 points against Lenoir-Rhyne doesn’t exactly give Tennessee fans gobs of confidence that this team will be able to outscore many SEC opponents this season.

The good news is there is still time for improvement before the Vols get to league play and Donnie Tyndall won’t be doing as much substituting as he is now. The bad news Tennessee will face many tough opponents in the out of conference portion of the schedule before the first of the year.

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