Crunching the numbers

Ninth-ranked Tennessee's stunning 77-55 loss Saturday at unranked Southern Cal continued a pattern which has become all too obvious in recent years: When the Vols fail to score a lot of points, they usually fail to win.

Head coach Bruce Pearl's uptempo offense and pressure defense is designed to produce lots of transition baskets for Tennessee and lots of turnovers by the opponent. When it succeeds on both counts, the Vols generally win. When it fails on one count or the other, the Vols often lose.

Consider:

- Since Pearl took the reins in 2005-06 the Vols have scored fewer than 60 points just seven times. Their record in those games is 2-5, a .286 winning percentage.

- Pearl's Vols have scored fewer than 70 points just 28 times. Their record in those games is 12-16, a .428 winning percentage.

- Pearl's Vols have scored fewer than 80 points 73 times. Their record in those games is 40-33, a .548 winning percentage.

- Pearl's Vols have scored 80 or more points 72 times. Their record in those games is 66-6, a .917 winning percentage.

Clearly, Tennessee's magic number is 80 points. When the Vols crack that barrier they almost always win - whether they're playing at home, on the road or at a neutral site.

When the Vols score less than 80 points, however, they are just 14-7 at home, 15-15 on the road and 11-11 on neutral floors.

When the Vols score less than 70 points, they are 6-3 at home, 3-9 on the road and 3-4 on neutral courts.

When the Vols score less than 60 points, they are 0-1 at home, 1-3 on the road and 1-1 on neutral floors.

Pearl's first UT squad, the 2005-06 team, went 8-8 when scoring less than 80 points. His 2006-07 team went 9-7 in such games. Pearl's best team - the 2007-08 squad that posted a program-record 31 victories - managed to win big without always scoring big. Led by clutch seniors Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith, that squad went 10-4 when scoring less than 80 points.

Conversely, last year's squad was Pearl's worst in terms of winning without lighting up the scoreboard. The 2008-09 Vols went 9-12 when scoring less than 80 points.

Saturday's loss at Southern Cal leaves the 2009-10 Vols with a 4-2 mark in such games. They beat DePaul (57-53), ETSU (78-66), Middle Tennessee (75-54) and Wyoming (77-58) but lost to Purdue (72-73) and USC.

Like the 2007-08 team, this year's squad has some key seniors - Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince and Bobby Maze - so maybe that experience will enable it to learn to win even on nights when the points are less than plentiful.

Regardless, here's a breakdown of Tennessee's results when it has scored less than 80 points during the Bruce Pearl era. Neutral-site games are marked (n) and road games (r):

THE 2005-06 SEASON ... 8-8

64-53 vs. Murray State (n)

73-89 vs. Oklahoma State (n)

69-58 vs. Lipscomb

76-69 vs. South Carolina (r)

74-88 vs. LSU (r)

79-88 vs. Memphis (r)

69-62 vs. Vanderbilt

75-67 vs. Kentucky

79-92 vs. Alabama (r)

76-72 vs. Florida (r)

69-73 vs. Arkansas

78-80 vs. Kentucky

68-59 vs. Vanderbilt (r)

71-79 vs. South Carolina (n)

63-61 vs. Winthrop (n)

73-80 vs. Wichita State (n)

THE 2006-07 SEASON ... 9-7

78-71 vs. Fordham (n)

44-56 vs. Butler (n)

77-67 vs. Louisiana Lafayette (r)

76-58 vs. Memphis

79-77 vs. Oklahoma State (n)

66-68 vs. Ohio State (r)

64-61 vs. South Carolina

69-83 vs. Ole Miss (r)

57-76 vs. Kentucky (r)

78-94 vs. Florida (r)

70-67 vs. LSU

64-81 vs. South Carolina (r)

69-66 vs. Alabama

71-65 vs. Georgia (r)

67-76 vs. LSU (n)

77-74 vs. Virginia (n)

THE 2007-08 SEASON ... 10-4

74-72 vs. West Virginia (n)

78-97 vs. Texas (n)

76-70 vs. Chattanooga (r)

74-69 vs. Ohio State

66-72 vs. Kentucky (r)

76-71 vs. Mississippi State (r)

47-45 vs. LSU (r)

74-71 vs. Georgia (r)

66-62 vs. Memphis (r)

69-72 vs. Vanderbilt (r)

63-60 vs. Kentucky

72-57 vs. American (n)

76-71 vs. Butler (n)

60-79 vs. Louisville (n)

THE 2008-09 SEASON ... 9-12

76-66 vs. Middle Tennessee (r)

78-64 vs. Siena (n)

74-83 vs. Georgetown (n)

72-88 vs. Temple (r)

79-77 vs. Belmont

79-89 vs. Gonzaga

72-90 vs. Kentucky

76-63 vs. Vanderbilt (r)

52-54 vs. Memphis

73-79 vs. LSU

79-63 vs. Florida

74-72 vs. Arkansas (r)

79-48 vs. Georgia

69-50 vs. Vanderbilt

65-81 vs. Ole Miss (r)

58-77 vs. Kentucky (r)

79-75 vs. Florida (r)

67-70 vs. Alabama

61-64 vs. Mississippi State (n)

75-77 vs. Oklahoma State (n)

THE 2009-10 SEASON ... 4-2

57-53 vs. DePaul (n)

72-73 vs. Purdue (n)

78-66 vs. ETSU

75-54 vs. Middle Tennessee (n)

77-58 vs. Wyoming

55-77 vs. Southern Cal (r)


Inside Tennessee Top Stories