Stopping stars not enough

The Tennessee Basketball Vols proved two things last week:

One, they can shut down a high-scoring opposing guard.

Two, they can still lose big while doing so.

The Vols limited Ole Miss' high-scoring David Huertas to 4-of-12 shooting (1-of-6 from 3) last Wednesday but still lost 81-65.

The Vols limited SEC scoring leader Jodie Meeks of Kentucky to 4-of-14 shooting (0-of-7 from 3) last Saturday but still lost 77-58.

To recap: Tennessee held two of the SEC's premier players to a combined 8 of 26 from the floor and a combined 1 of 13 from 3 last week but suffered two losses by a combined 35 points.

Jason Shay, filling in for head coach Bruce Pearl at this week's UT media luncheon, conceded that stopping Meeks and Huertas – though encouraging – simply wasn't enough.

"We did a good job obviously on Jodie Meeks, and Kentucky's other role players made plays," Shay said. "Against Ole Miss we got Huertas in foul trouble but their other guys made plays, especially the freshman (Terrico White)."

Vol junior Wayne Chism thought the Vols focused so much attention on Meeks, who burned them for 54 points on Jan. 13 in Knoxville, that they forgot about the other four Wildcats on the floor.

""We tried to keep our focus on one person, and the rest of their team stepped up big-time," Chism noted. "We didn't play defense on the other four players. We all tried to play defense on one player; we lost focus on the other players, and they had big nights."

Single-mindedness wasn't Tennessee's only problem in the losses at Ole Miss and Kentucky, however. A good start is critical in road games, and the Vols struggled out of the gate each time. Even with Huertas in foul trouble, Tennessee trailed virtually the entire first half at Oxford. And, even with Meeks misfiring, the Vols fell behind 13-0 at Lexington. The Big Orange had opportunities to take control of each game early but did not exploit them.

"As assistants, we felt needed to get off to good starts at both places, especially on the road against two tough opponents," Shay said. "Defensively, we've been doing a good job. When we start off and the first 10 minutes at Kentucky you look up there and we've only got two points, that puts a lot of pressure on a defense.

"I think our effort was good. It was the execution on the offensive end (that lost the game)."


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