Tennessee saw its frantic comeback fall short in a 67-56 loss to Vanderbilt at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night. It couldn't overcome a slow start that saw the Commodores jump out to an 18-4 upper hand.
The Big Orange was ice cold early and scored a season-low 18 points in the first half as it shot just 23.1 percent from the floor. Rick Barnes's team commit six turnovers and made just six field goals in the opening 20 minutes.
The Vols made a frantic comeback in the second half, pulling to within one point with 6:01 to play at 44-43. Vandy made two 3-point baskets in under a minute to take control. The Vols never got closer than six the rest of the way.
The 11-point loss is a crippling one to the Vols' hopes of dancing in March. Their record falls to 15-13 overall and 7-8 in the Southeastern Conference as they head into a must-win at South Carolina on Saturday.
Offense: This one was lost on the offensive side of the court for Tennessee. Unlike the first game in Nashville where the Vols shot 58 percent from the floor, the Big Orange sank just 18 of 62 on Wednesday night.
Tennessee also struggled from outside the arc, making only 3 of 17.
Shembari Phillips started in place of an ill Jordan Bowden and brought significant energy during the second-half comeback but struggled from the floor, making only 2 of 13 shots. He played a majority of the second half at the point-guard position as Barnes benched Jordan Bone and Lamonté Turner for poor play.
The Vols committed 10 turnovers but only dished out only 12 assists.
Tennessee was led in scoring by Robert Hubbs' 16 points. He tallied his 1000th points as a Vol as well.
Simply put this game was lost with the lack of being able to shoot the basketball and the Vols missed Bowden badly in that department.
Defense: The Big Orange played a solid game on defense as the visitors from Nashville only shot 36.8 percent from the floor and made just 8 of 26 from outside the arc.
Vandy jumped out from the opening tip with a made layup just 5 seconds in and stretched that lead to 18-4 as the Vols were shellshocked. Tennessee buckled down quickly afterward and the defense kept the hosts within striking distance.
The Vols held the visitors in check until the five-minute mark but couldn't get enough stops to pull ahead late.
Barnes put seldom-used Kwe Parker into the game for much of the second half. The freshman guard made a big impact on defense. He also made a huge 3-point basket that gave the Vols life late.
Overall the defense was plenty good enough for the Vols to have escaped with a victory.
Rebounding: The effort on the glass was another area that was good enough for a win.
The Orange & White won the rebounding battle 48-40 and crashed the offensive glass at a frantic pace in the second half.
Tennessee just grabbed one offensive board in the first half but was able to get 16 in the second.
Grant Williams really hammered the glass after intermission, finishing with 10 rebounds. Phillips contributed six boards.
The Commodores were limited to six offensive rebounds.