Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports

IT's Take: Vols drop Maui opener

The Vols overcame a poor start and a 17-point first-half deficit to take a second-half lead before falling to Wisconsin by 12.

Don't make the mistake of looking at the 74-62 final score and thinking this game was an easy victory for Wisconsin over Tennessee. This game was one a young team like Tennessee can certainly take a number of positives from and use as a confidence booster.

The Vols could not have gotten off to a worse start as Wisconsin jumped out to a 12-0 lead and made their first seven shots from the field. Detrick Mostella then came in off the bench and scored the next five points. The Badgers would eventually stretch their lead to 17 points but Rick Barnes changed his defense to a zone and the Vols played well the rest of the first half, cutting the lead to 40-32.

The Vols carried the momentum into the second half, going on a 10-0 run to take a 42-40 lead. The game went back and forth until a late surge was enough for the 16th-ranked Badgers to earn the victory but this game should give Vol fans hope for this young team

Offense: The Vols did an excellent job of protecting the basketball in the first half. Robert Hubbs III had a quick turnover and freshman Kwe Parker in his first action as a Vol had another early one but Tennessee played the rest of the half with zero turnovers. The Vols finished with 10 turnovers but a few of those were costly. John Fulkerson and Parker, two freshmen, had key turnovers. The Parker one was key in the Wisconsin run that was the difference. Mostella played well the first half but was not able to keep his momentum going in the second. The Vols made five straight 3-point shots in the first half but could not find the range in the second half, only making one. The Vols played four different point guards with Jordan Bone nursing an apparent ankle injury. Overall it was a solid day offensively for the much less experienced Vols.

Defense: The Vols struggled mightily to defend the Badgers early in the game where Wisconsin made their first seven shots. Barnes made a change going zone that paid off allowing the Vols to get back into the game. The second half Barnes kept switching defenses that kept the Badgers from getting comfortable. The Badgers did finish the game shooting 56 percent so it is hard to say the defense played well but it was opportunistic, causing 16 turnovers.

Rebounding: At first glimpse the Vols were destroyed on the boards as the final total was 38-25. However with the Vols taking 13 more shots than Wisconsin that margin is a little more understanding. The Vols rebounded much better in the second half as well. The Vols had eight offensive boards while Wisconsin had 10. Overall the rebounding effort was perhaps a little better than expected with playing a more experienced physical team.

Grades

Offense: B

Defense: B-

Rebounding: C+


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