Turnovers kill UT on road

Based on Tennessee's recent blowout road losses at Florida and South Carolina, Buzz Peterson figures the key in Wednesday night's game at Mississippi State is simple:

''We can't start the game off with turnovers,'' he said.

Not only do turnovers cost UT scoring opportunities, but they also give an opponent golden opportunities to score cheap baskets while the Vols are struggling to make the transition from offense to defense. That will be vitally important in Wednesday night's game at Starkville.

''You've got to really take care of the basketball, limit them from getting easy transition buckets because when they're running, those guys on the wings finish well,'' Peterson said. ''We cannot give them opportunities off our turnovers to score.

''We've got to take care of the ball, get the shot we want. That's going to help our defense so much. One thing we've not done a very good job of this year is our transition defense. We slap at the ball as it's going up the floor. We just don't get back to the right spots (on defense).''

Just as damaging as a turnover is a poor shot that produces an air ball or a long rebound. This also helps jumpstart an opponent's transition offense. Peterson was so fearful of bad shots against Louisville last Sunday that he gave a stern lecture to several of his players.

''I told John Winchester, Stanley Asumnu, Justin Albrecht -- all the guys who shoot the ball from outside: 'You are not taking an outside shot unless the ball's been in the paint twice,' '' Peterson recalled. ''Scooter (McFadgon) can take it and C.J. (Watson) can take it if he's wide open, but nobody else is going to take an open jumpshot from outside unless the ball's been in the paint twice.

''They did a good job. They stayed with the gameplan except for that one stretch.''

That ''one stretch'' was a killer, however. Two air balls and five UT turnovers enabled Louisville to make a 12-0 run that turned a 43-36 deficit into a 48-43 lead. Tennessee never recovered, eventually losing 65-62.

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