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Tennessee Can’t Find Its Groove In Cincinnati, Drop Second Straight

The Tennessee Vols have run into a major problem over the past few games: hitting an open shot. This has been fascinating to watch, as the Vols have been getting a good amount of open looks. Tonight, it came back to bite them again as the Vols fell 78-66 to Cincinnati on the road.

Cincinnati started the game with an 8-0 run, which seemed to catch the Vols by surprise, especially with the defense Tennessee was playing. It seemed like the Vols took the message from Rick Barnes, after a fierce timeout exchange. John Fulkerson was battling inside the paint for every point he could muster.

The defense for Tennessee seemed to get lost most of the night on the ball screens, having a hard time even guarding when playing man. Even though the Vols shot 52 percent in the 1st half, playing in transition continued to hamper any kind of momentum. Cincinnati led 38-34 at halftime, while shooting 64 percent from the field.

One player who has continued to bring the aggressiveness every night is Fulkerson. It’s had to imagine what this team would look like without his presence around the paint. He holds nothing back, as he drives the ball or fights for a rebound. His 10 points in the 1st half were as gritty as they come. He finished with 14 points on the night and was the the leading scorer, a stat I am sure a good amount of Tennessee fans wouldn’t envisioned, but he earned it.

As the 2nd half rolled on, the Bearcats’ shooting stayed the same. Watching the Tennessee defense struggle through screens and picking up the shooter had to be infuriating for Barnes, especially coming off the nice performance against Memphis.

Lamonte Turner exited the game for a few minutes in the 2nd half after rolling his ankle, he immediately went to the locker room. After playing all forty minutes against Memphis, Turner played 28 minutes on Wednesday night. This was an opportunity for Davonte Gaines to take advantage, who came in early in the 1st half as well. Gaines, who played 16 minutes, didn’t have the defensive performance that Barnes could rely on, he finished with four points and three rebounds.

Jordan Bowden’s shooting woes continued on Wednesdayt, even though he finished with 13 points, with four of those coming at the free-throw line. Bowden was 4-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from 3-pt range. Tonight he attacked the basket though, which is what Barnes wanted from his senior, unfortunately his shots weren’t going in. I personally don’t feel this will keep up, he’s due, but has to keep attacking.

Tennessee is 7-of-41 in the past two games from behind the arc. That stat is shocking, but it should come with an asterisk. Turner only tried one 3-pt shot on Wednesday, with the rest of the team going 1-of-14. You’re not going to win many games with that kind of shooting. You have to feel for Turner, who’s been dealing with shoulder issues that past few seasons. Tennessee could’ve definitely used one of those clutch three-pointers tonight, as they kept it close for most of the evening.

Cincinnati ended up finishing off the Vols at the FT line down the stretch, expanding on the final score.

The Tennessee defense has to be better than Wednesday’s performance, or this stretch of non-conference games will end up hampering the Vols in SEC play. Tonight it wasn’t good enough and they’re now on notice. This season is still early and Tennessee is hoping the shoulder of Turner will get better over time, with this treatment plan. But, LSU and the SEC are approaching, so there’s not much time to figure out how to score outside of the paint.

 

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