The Vols began their journey for an NIT Championship Monday against Notre Dame. With just three turnovers, Tennessee shot 60 percent from the floor, which led to a season-high 111 points.
Look, we had to do something without live sports.
3&OUT came up with the next best thing, a video game simulation. Thanks to Davey Hudson, the best NIT expert in the game, we have an NIT bracket to simulation.
We will continue to show a live broadcast of the (simulated) games at 8:00 am the day of the game. You can find the complete bracket below.
The Vols received a four seed, which paired them up against a very tough Fighting Irish squad.
Or at least that’s what we all thought.
John Fulkerson set the tone on Notre Dame’s first possession with a huge block that led to a fast break opportunity for Tennessee. Oddly enough, Yves Pons led the break, eventually drawing a double team at the top of the key.
Pons handled the pressure like a pro by kicking it out to a wide-open Santiago Vescovi – for three.
The Vols kept pushing in transition throughout the game; something 3&OUT said they should have been doing all season.
Tennessee scored 78 of their 111 points in the paint. But, if you ask Wes Rucker, this team wasn’t build to drive the basketball.
Maybe more impressive, the Vols held Notre Dame to 36 percent from the floor. The Fighting Irish shot even worse from deep, just 6-for-21, 29 percent.
Notre Dame pulled down more offensive rebounds than Tennessee and had more bench points, which is something to watch out for in the upcoming games.
Vescovi led the way for the Vols with 26 points on 10-for-15 from the floor, including 3-for-5 from the three-point line.
The freshman point guard struggled all season with turnovers. However, Vescovi was able to finish the game with zero.
Jordan Bowden and Fulkerson poured in 24 and 18 points respectfully.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Get Out and Run
The Vols scored 33 fast break points. Rick Barnes begged his point guards to push the ball all season long. It seems like it took tournament play to see a difference on the court.
3-pointers = Still Bad
Despite shooting a high percentage overall, the Vols didn’t shoot well from the three-point line, just 32 percent.
Tennessee was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation. However, the 32 percent was higher than their season average. Now, it didn’t help the three-point line was moved back to NBA length, but it has to get better to continue winning.
Uros Plavsic saw early minutes off the bench in the blowout win. I know what you’re thinking, but Plavsic played great.
The big man attempted two shots from deep, connecting on one of them.
The reports were right; he can shoot! Plavsic ended the game with five points in 16 minutes. He even added two rebounds with zero fouls.
Above all, the Vols got the win and are moving to the next round. Tennessee will take on the number one seed Purdue Boilermakers on Wednesday at 8:00 am.