Tennessee Scoring: Jarnell Stokes 20, Jordan McRae 16, Jeronne Maymon 14, Antonio Barton 5, Robert Hubbs 5, Rawane Ndiaye 2, Josh Richardson 2
Key Performance: It wasn't enough to shift the tide so it will go largely unnoticed, but Brandon Randolph's composure was pretty good while the rest of the team was really struggling. He's had a difficult time putting the ball in the basket recently, but he was 4-of-7 from the field with a couple of nice floaters in the lane to finish with eight points, five rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes of action. The Musketeers actually needed him to be more aggressive on the offensive end than he was, but it was a pretty solid showing for the freshman point guard in a game where nothing seemed to be going right for his team.
Good Stat: In addition to Brandon Randolph's 4-for-7 shooting performance, the only other stat that stood out was James Farr's 2-for-3 effort from beyond the 3-point arc. On a team where offense and outside shooting is lacking, Farr may continue to see his minutes increase with the way he is shooting it from deep.
Bad Stat: When Xavier beat Tennessee 67-63 just a few weeks ago at the Cintas Center, the Volunteers had only 14 offensive rebounds, the same number as the Musketeers, and each team had just four second-chance points. Tennessee outscored Xavier 26-4 in second-chance points on Friday. Jarnell Stokes playing more than 20 minutes this time around was a big part of that, but the Musketeers didn't have near the same toughness or energy that they did the first time around.
Offense Struggles Again without Christon
If there's one thing that's become clear about this team over the two games its played in Atlantis, it's that they still don't have enough firepower on offense to survive without Semaj Christon on the floor. Thursday night against Iowa the Musketeers collapsed down the stretch when Christon left the game with cramps, and on Friday they struggled early on in the game with Christon sitting a few minutes to get an IV and guard against cramps and then getting in foul trouble. Part of Xavier's struggles on offense were due to Tennessee's scoring 39 points on the other end. It's hard to push for easy looks in transition, something this team has relied on to jump start the offense, when the Musketeers are taking the ball out of the net and having to inbound it every other trip down the court.
Big Tennessee Run Dooms X
Tennessee outscored Xavier 23-12 in the last 10 minutes of the first half to push their lead to 39-26 at halftime after leading just 16-14 at the 10:00 mark. Coach Mack tried changing things up and switched to a zone defense and then back to a man-to-man, and the Musketeers tried to place an emphasis on getting Stainbrook some touches in the post but nothing seemed to matter. The Volunteers got a few easy looks in transition off of missed jumpers and turnovers by X, and when they didn't get an easy look they often rebounded the miss and got a second-chance bucket. A few nice takes to the basket, some good ball movement and more second-chance points kept the momentum in orange out of the locker rooms. The Vols opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt over the first four minute war, extending their run to 31-14 over 14 minutes of game time, and essentially putting the game out of reach at the first media timeout.
Quotable: "The key matchup was we contained Semaj Christon. It was an overall defensive effort against him. We were able to frustrate him. We adjusted to the new rules - I feel like that's what hurt us a lot at Xavier. We were still hand-checking and this time we were able to show our hands without getting called." - Jarnell Stokes
Takeaway: This is a gut-check time for the Musketeers. They were embarrassed by a Tennessee team that was really feeling some pressure and facing some tough criticism. Now they're in that same spot. It will be interesting to see how X responds tomorrow in a game that doesn't mean anything.