The Big Orange performance was among the worst of the Bruce Pearl era at Tennessee. The Vols made just 23 of 63 field-goal tries (36.5 percent), including 6 of 26 from beyond the arc (23.1 percent). Tennessee lost the backboards 37-33 and forced just 11 turnovers – 12 fewer than it caused in beating Temple 80-63 a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Vol defense was a no-show. Temple hit 31 of 56 shots (55.3 percent) and 8 of 20 from beyond the arc (40 percent).
"Believe it or not, we made progress this week in practice," head coach Bruce Pearl said on the post-game show. " But in seven out of the last eight halves of basketball we've played, teams have shot better than 50 percent."
Tennessee had absolutely no answer for Christmas, a 6-5 senior guard who alternately drove through the Vols and shot over them.
"He was as good as advertised, if not better," Pearl said. "He did a great job, making seven of their eight 3s. He was hard to guard. We didn't have anybody who could stay with him.... We probably should've given him a hard foul at some point to see if we could get him off his rhythm."
"J.P. is our second-best player, with Tyler," Pearl said. "J.P. is a key, key guy. He's got a high IQ, basketball-wise, and he's one of our leaders in scoring, assists and defensively. J.P. is a great player."
Tennessee scored a season-low 25 points in the first half and went to the break down 34-25. Temple expanded the lead to 14 (45-31) five minutes into the second half.
The Vols pulled within four at 52-48 with 11:17 to play but Christmas scored 13 points in a 15-4 spurt that built the lead to 67-52. Nine of the points came on back-to-back-to-back 3s.
Temple's biggest lead was 82-59 with 4:27 left.
Tennessee will try to get back on track Tuesday night against Marquette. That game tip offs at 8:30 Central at the Sommet Center in Nashville as part of the SEC/Big East Invitational.