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Tigers Outlast Vols On Cold Day In TBA

 

It turned out to be a very cold afternoon at TBA, and no I am not talking about the weather. After a start in which Josiah-Jordan James had 9 points & the Vols defense looked to be playing lights out, Things just didn’t hold for Tennessee, who couldn’t buy a basket in the 2nd half, especially when the Vols were attacking the basket.

Speaking of Triple-J, he finished with 14 points & 5 rebounds on the day, which in the first half seemed like he was taking over. The problem for Tennessee was that they were barely getting any help from a few leaders. James was the only player in double digits for Tennessee. Josiah had opportunities in the 2nd half to drive the basket, but instead kicked it around. He looks to be slowly finding his shot, though I am sure it’s taking longer than he would like.

Barnes, when speaking on Josiah-Jordan James “He’s worked really hard at shooting the ball, and I thought Josiah played his best game in terms of his confidence and his demeanor in terms of how he was playing. I thought he was good today in terms of trying to do everything he could. I might feel differently after I look at the tape, but I do like the way he carried himself.”

Lamonte Turner & Jordan Bowden went for a combined 10 points & 5 assists on the day. The duo also shot just 3–21 from the field in a night I am sure they’d love to forget.

John Fulkerson deserves as much credit as he can soak up. He finished with 9 points & 7 rebounds on the night, but was involved in almost every single play. Penny Hardaway said postgame :”He might be the hardest working player in the country”, which is a derved compliment. He was the lifeblood of any momentum the Vols could gather Saturday afternoon.

Fulkerson spoke to the media after the game, giving his thoughts on the loss to Memphis

Tennessee cant shoot 15% from 3pt range, while also only shooting 25% from the field. This team isn’t built for performances like this, on both ends of the court. Memphis took full advantage of the Vols mistakes, especially after coming out of halftime full of energy. to start the 2nd half.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game, Tennessee shot so poorly it allowed Memphis to keep things close & Tigers didn’t back down. The Vols cant have nights like this from their leaders, Bowden & Turner have to be better. If they do, this team will have a chance to shock a few more folks this season.

It was a welcomed sight to many Tennessee fans & I imagine Rick Barnes, when Drew Pember came in the game with ferocity. He tried early on in the 1st half to make the highlight package, as he soared through the air for a potential dunk. His aggressiveness stood out on Saturday, though he only finished with 4 points & 4 rebounds.

Rick Barnes had this to say about Pember, “But I was really pleased with Drew Pember, and I think Drew is going to get a chance. He’s going to change it. Because he’s a guy that, the more he gets out there, he’s going to figure it out. But he gives us another ball handler and a guy that has a really good feel”

This will sting for a bit with Tennessee fans, but this team has to continue playing good defense. I would imagine we wont see another night where Bowden & Turner go for a combined ten points. They have to be persistent on driving the basketball, while looking for the open kick-out.

 

Penny Hardaway was asked after the game about his thoughts on this series & if it should continue, while also pointing out some regret about last year. “I would love to keep this rivalry going. This rivalry needs to stay. I shouldn’t have said what I said last year. I take responsibility for that. We need to keep playing these guys”

Now, do you take those comments as truth, coming after a win & breaking Tennessee’s home winning streak, that’s up to you. But, I feel this series does a lot of great things for the state. Memphis & Tennessee will get together next season at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, which should make for a fantastic atmosphere.

Rick Barnes was asked about continuing the series after next season, and we received the same answer that he’s given for a while now. “I’ve talked about it. I’ve said the same thing that I’ve said form the beginning. When I got here, we were the ones that initiated to start of this series. It was started with Tubby Smith and I… we talked about it, and it took us two years to figure it out where we could get it going. Our initial thought was that we wanted to play in Nashville and divide the building. I’ve said leading up to this… because of how we’ve been able to (elevate the stature of) our program, and where I think their program has moved, you have to have flexibility in your schedule. I’m not saying we will or we won’t, but like I said, I have respect for Memphis and know all about the history of Memphis basketball and know a lot about Penny Hardaway. I learned this week that he’s not in the Hall of Fame. I was surprised by that. I didn’t know that. But the fact is, when you look at our schedule, we play a really hard schedule. We’ll look at it, but we’re always going to do what we think is right for us. I’m not saying we will or we won’t (continue the series), but that’s where we are.”

Tennessee can’t afford to let this loss attribute to another, as the Vols head north to Cincinnati on Wednesday night. The Vols have to put this one behind them, though like all losses, it’s easier said than done.

The 3-game series is tied 1-1, they will get the rubber match in Nashville. Let the talking begin, again.

 

 

 

 

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