Buzz disappointed with defensive effort

Statistics can be misleading, but there are times when they can really expose the severity of a problem ... as with Tennessee's defense, for instance.

The Vols rank dead last among the 12 SEC basketball teams in scoring defense (allowing 71.2 points per game), 11th in field-goal defense (allowing foes to shoot 44.4 percent), 11th in steals (recording just 6.68 per game) and 11th in turnover margin (making nearly one per game more than they cause).

Clearly, UT's defense stinks. That, more than anything else, explains why the Vols have lost six of their last seven games. During that stretch, Florida shot 64.8 percent from the floor, South Carolina 63.6, LSU 60.4 and Georgia Tech 52.1. The perimeter defense was the major culprit each time. Florida hit 53.8 percent from 3-point range, South Carolina 64.7, LSU 55.6 and Tech 50.0.

Head coach Buzz Peterson conceded Monday that he is disappointed with UT's recent defensive effort ... or lack thereof.

''What botheres me is the mindset on the defensive end,'' he said.

To illustrate his point, the coach noted that Tennessee had a great chance to trail by just two points at halftime of Saturday's game with visiting Georgia Tech. After Stanley Asumnu missed both ends of a two-shot foul, however, Tech raced upcourt and hit a wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer to push the lead from four to seven.

The Yellow Jackets' starting guards combined to sink 16 of 25 floor shots against a soft Tennessee perimeter defense. Peterson admitted it is ''a grind'' to see opposing guards getting wide-open looks while Vol guards have to work so hard to get a glimpse of the rim.

''I hate playing zone at home,'' the UT coach said, but he admitted that he may utilize some zone in Wednesday night's home date with Arkansas unless he sees significant improvement in the Vols' man-to-man.

Bottom line: Unless the Vols give more effort on defense, it won't matter what style they play.

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