In a quick turnaround, the Vols take on Missouri tonight for their first road game of conference play.
Despite the 0-1 at the hands of LSU, Tennessee does a positive outlook moving forward thanks to newcomer PG Santiago Vescovi.
Vescovi was on campus a total of one week before being tabbed as the starting point guard for the Vols.
Tennessee will surely need an encore of his 18-point, 6-of-9 from deep performance on Tuesday night.
Realistically, it will take Vescovi time to build team chemistry and to become fully acclimated with playing at an SEC-level.
If his debut is any indication of what to expect, Vescovi’s ceiling is incredibly high.
Without a doubt, the significance of his emergence for the Vols cannot be understated.
The emergence could prove to be the fuel the Vols need to propel them to a bid in the NCAA Tournament.
ON THE ROAD IN THE SEC
Tuesday night, Tennessee goes up against a stout Missouri defense that only allows 56.8 points per game (No. 4 nationally).
Furthermore, their defense holds opponents to an abysmal 25.9% from three (No. 5 nationally).
While Missouri’s defense will be a challenge, the Vols are up against an offense that isn’t nearly as intimidating.
Only two Tigers are averaging double-figures within an offense that ranks No. 237 with 67.3 points per game.
But, that sounds about right, doesn’t it? A Cuonzo Martin team that is good at defense and bad at offense.
Ultimately, the Vols should have a chance to get their defense back on track versus this Missouri squad.
VOLS LAPSING DEFENSE
From the start of the season to December 4th, the Vols held seven of eight opponents to 60 points or less.
During that span, Tennessee came out with a 7-1 record.
Since then, Tennessee has allowed three of their last five opponents to score 60 points or more (two reaching nearly 80 points).
Subsequently, the Vols have amassed four losses in those five contests (spanning only three weeks).
The first of the Vols four losses (vs. Memphis) was the time Lamonté Turner’s injury became the most apparent.
Tennessee went on to lose Turner for the season, following their only victory in that five-game stretch.
It’s clear that the loss of Turner hurts the Vols defense significantly, and their correlated adjustments have not shown much progress.
In the end, Tennessee has an opportunity to right some wrongs defensively against the Tigers.
Missouri’s relatively inept offense can aid a Vols defense that needs to display the progressional adjustments they are capable of.
Tennessee is set to tip-off in Mizzou Arena at 7:00 PM, broadcast on the SEC Network.