As Tyler goes ...

To say "Tennessee goes as Tyler Smith goes" would be an exaggeration ... but only a mild exaggeration.

The Basketball Vols sometimes win when Tyler Smith shoots poorly and they sometimes lose when he shoots well. Generally speaking, though, there's a direct correlation between his success from the field and Tennessee's success on the scoreboard.

Consider Smith's worst shooting performances:

- 1 for 11 in a 77-58 loss at Kentucky on Feb. 21

- 2 for 14 in a 64-61 loss to Mississippi State on March 15

- 3 for 15 in a 70-67 loss to Alabama on March 8

- 5 for 18 in a 54-52 loss to Memphis on Jan. 24

- 4 for 14 in an 81-76 defeat of Mississippi State on Feb. 25

- 2 for 7 in a 79-73 loss to LSU on Jan. 28

- 5 for 14 in a 90-72 loss to Kentucky on Jan. 13

- 5 for 14 in a 79-63 defeat of Florida on Jan. 31

- 6 for 16 in an 83-74 loss to Gonzaga on Nov. 30

- 6 for 16 in an 88-72 loss at Temple on Dec. 13

For those keeping score at home, the Big Orange went 2-8 in Smith's 10 poorest outings – with both wins coming at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Of Tennessee's 12 losses to date, only four occurred in games featuring solid or better shooting performances by Tyler Smith – with three of those setbacks occurring on the road.

Check out these numbers:

- 6 for 13 in a 92-85 loss at Kansas on Jan. 3

- 7 for 15 in an 89-79 loss to Gonzaga on Jan. 7

- 9 for 13 in a 78-77 loss at Auburn on Feb. 7

- 6 for 11 in an 81-65 loss at Ole Miss on Feb. 18

Does all of this mean Tennessee can't beat Oklahoma State in Friday's NCAA East Regional opener unless Tyler Smith has a good shooting performance?

No. But the Vols' odds go way up if he does.


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