Another road game, another road defeat for Tennessee. The Vols were thoroughly manhandled by South Carolina on Wednesday, dropping an 84-58 decision for their 13th loss away from Knoxville on the season. With Kevin Punter out as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right foot, the offense flowed through freshman Shembari Phillips, who turned in a 16-point performance in his first extended road action of the season. Devon Baulkman also helped the sputtering offense with 19 points off the bench to lead the team, but Tennessee's offense suffered mightily without Punter in the lineup and didn't get much productino from anyone else. Armani Moore once again filled his stat sheet with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists, yet the Vols' defense simply couldn't match up with the Gamecocks. South Carolina's Duane Notice notched 17 points, while Michael Carrera ended the night with 16 in the win. Let's take a look at some of the highlights of the game:
1. Missing D
Tennessee gave up 49 points in the first half Wednesday, tied for the most it has allowed in the opening frame of a game all season. It was very evident early on that the Vols simply weren't guarding and it showed in the box score. South Carolina shot a whopping 52 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range in the win. Tennessee played man-to-man. It didn't work. The Vols played zone. It didn't work. The road woes continued on the defensive side of the things in yet another blowout loss.
2. Making Statements
Rick Barnes opted to play his younger players for much of the second half, even inserting little-used big man Ray Kasongo and walk-on Brad Woodson together after halftime. Woodson knocked down a 3-pointer to go 1-for-5 shooting, and he did it while Robert Hubbs and Detrick Mostella sat the bench. It was a statement by Barnes that was heard loud and clear by the rest of the team.
3. Lacking FT's
In the last meeting between these two teams, Tennessee seemed to get to the free throw line at will. The Vols knocked down 30 shots from the charity stripe to upest then-No. 24 South Carolina at home, but this time around, the Vols failed to draw fouls in the same way. Tennessee got to the line just 11 times and missed eight of those attempts for a 34 percent free throw shooting percentage. That's just plain bad, and it's worse when you're a team that is struggling to get going offensively.
4. No Punter, No Points
Leaving Knoxville with Kevin Punter sidelined turned out to be a much different task than it was Saturday, when Tennessee smacked LSU at home minus its leading scorer. Punter's absence was felt all night when the Vols stagnated on offense and lacked a certain energy he brings to the table.