The Vols got off to a hot start against Marquette in the final game of the Orlando Classic, a matchup that would determine the third-place finisher. But the Golden Eagles erased an 11-point deficit to storm back to a halftime lead and, though the Vols made it interesting at times, Tennessee could never overcome it.
Here are five takeaways from Tennessee’s loss:
3-pointers hurt on both ends: Marquette ended up with a commanding advantage from behind the 3-point line. The Golden Eagles connected on 6 of 14 (43%), while the Vols only hit 3 of 20 (15%) and just 1 of 15 (6.7%) in the second half as they tried to mount a comeback. Some of that has to be contributed to some fantastic shooting by the Golden Eagles, particularly from Duane Wilson, who hit 5 of 9, including some bombs from well beyond the arc. But rotation and overall communication were issues for the Vols as they left shooters open all over the floor, particularly later in the game. The Vols didn’t answer on the other end either. After hitting a couple early, the 3-ball was virtually non-existent and those misses piling up hurt UT’s chances at making it more of a game down the stretch.
Moore shines: One bright spot was the play of Armani Moore, who had perhaps his best game as a Volunteer, recording his first career double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds). He was all over the floor, breaking down the Marquette zone at times by getting into the lane, hustling around for loose balls and keeping balls alive for rebound opportunities for both himself and teammates. He also contributed a steal and a blocked shot on the defensive end. With his versatility, he’ll be a a big factor for the Vols all season long.
Too many fouls: The Vols, already one of the nation’s leaders in fouls called against them, kept that trend up against Marquette, particularly in the first half. Tennessee had half a dozen fouls called against them in the opening minutes and Marquette found itself in the bonus relatively quickly, allowing the Golden Eagles to get to the line and cut into UT’s early lead. In total, Marquette, despite not shooting a great percentage from the line (65%), still made over triple UT’s total of free throws (15 to 4). Hard fouls can and will happen near the basket at times, but UT is hurting itself with too many hand checks away from the bucket – plays that don’t help the defense, but do give the offense an edge when those fouls add up.
Turnover bug returns: After keeping turnovers in check against both Santa Clara and Kansas, the Vols got the turnover bug back against Marquette, coughing the ball up 15 times – nine times in the first half – to help Marquette regain the lead after its slow start. Josh Richardson was the biggest offender, losing the ball five times – a number the Vols can’t have from a player who is running some point guard and handling the ball so often. Marquette turned those turnovers into 16 points, while the Vols, who want to make their living turning the ball over and getting buckets off of it, only had 13 points off of turnovers.
Better rebounding: After getting destroyed on the boards against Kansas (44-22), Tennessee, despite going with more of a four-guard look of Josh Richardson, Robert Hubbs, Kevin Punter, Armani Moore and Willie Carmichael out of the gates, did a better job on the glass against Marquette, winning that battle 39-22. Tennessee was especially active on the offensive glass, holding an 18-5 advantage there. Unfortunately for UT, that also means there were a lot of opportunities on that end with all the missed shots. Credit players like Moore for keeping some of those balls alive on the offensive end to give Tennessee a second look. Punter (4), Jabari McGhee (4) and Devon Baulkman (6) also were major contributors on the glass.