Tennessee was not able to overcome a poor start, falling behind by 21 points, scratching back to within four, but eventually falling to No. 8 Gonzaga 86-76 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Sunday.
Like so many games before, the Vols (6-5) played exceptional at times but the Zags (11-0) were just too good. Gonzaga moved to 11-0 on the season and will certainly be ranked in the top 10 next week.
Detrick Mostella led the fierce charge back with 17 points. After sitting out the first half with foul trouble, Grant Williams finished with 11.
Offense: During the first 20 minutes the Big Orange had a terrible time getting into any kind of rhythm. Once Tennessee learned it could not challenge the paint as the size of the Zags was just too much overcome, the Vols were able to get some things moving in the second half. Shooting 30.4 percent (21 of 69) from the floor made the comeback a near miracle.
Robert Hubbs III had an off night shooting, making 4 of 10.
Free-throw shooting really hurt the comeback effort as the Vols missed eight charity shots in the second half.
Defense: The first 10 minutes of the game doomed the Vols as they fell behind by 21. Gonzaga seemed to make every shot but just like in the Lispcomb game, Tennessee turned up the intensity and played well the rest of the way.
They forced 20 turnovers and made the Zags take some wild shots. Overall this team has to become much more consistent in order to beat elite teams like Gonzaga.
Rebounding: By far this was the best effort all season long. Tennessee fought hard to record 20 offensive boards against the Zags’ eight.
Williams and Kyle Alexander both did a solid job on the boards with 13 between the two of them. Without a doubt the rebounding allowed the Vols to stay close enough to make a game of it.