Tennessee let a hapless TSU (2-11) team stick around for about 30 minutes in front of over 13,000 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday night. But the Vols (7-4) found their rhythm late, going on a 13-0 run in the second half that helped them pull away to get their seventh win of the season.
Here are five observations from Tennessee’s 67-46 win over the Tigers:
Tyndall takes care of business in home, non-conference game again: No, it wasn’t pretty during stretches of the game. But there’s no denying that Donnie Tyndall is among the best in the nation at defending his home court in non-conference games. A Tyndall-coached team hasn’t lost a non-conference, regular-season home game since Morehead State lost to South Dakota in December of 2011. That’s a span of over three full years. With only only a game against ETSU left on the non-conference home schedule, Tyndall has a great chance to carry that streak into the 2015-16 season. “He talks about (defending your home court) before every game,” said guard Josh Richardson.
TSU 3-pointers keep the Tigers in it: Even a team that is winless in Division I play is going to have a chance to stick around when it shoots well from 3-point land. Just a 34% shooting team from beyond the arc that averaged just over five made 3s per game coming into Saturday night, TSU found its stroke against the Vols, hitting 11-of-23 (48%). If not for some desperate attempts late in the game, that percentage easily could’ve risen over 50% for the evening. That’s a recipe for an undermanned team staying in a game, and at least for about 30 minutes of game time, it helped the Tigers do just that. “You give up some points from behind the line, but you get some of them back if you guard the right way,” Tyndall said.
Vols find their spurts: Donnie Tyndall regularly says that he has a team that scores in “spurts.” The Vols certainly did just that against TSU in the second half, putting together a 13-0 run midway through the second half to build a 55-40 lead at the 7:02 mark before TSU finally ended it on its next possession. Tennessee also had an 8-0 run midway through the first half that gave the Vols a 21-10 edge in the first half. Tyndall certainly won’t be pleased with everything that happened in between those spurts, but it’s a good sign that the Vols are able to put their foot on accelerator a little extra a few times per game.
Trio of Hubbs, Richardson and Punter step up: Nobody’s calling them the “Big 3” at this point, but Tennessee has found a good amount of production from the trio of Josh Richardson, Robert Hubbs III and Kevin Punter in recent games. Those three were the only players to score in double figures for UT, accounting for a combined total of 45 out of UT’s 67 total points (67.2% of the total offense). Those three were also pesky on the defensive end, accounting for seven total steals and deflecting several other balls that led to turnovers for Tennessee.
Defense creates some offense: Perhaps the most eye-opening stat for the Vols was that they held a 25-0 edge in points off of turnovers against TSU. “That’s our team, we’re not a great offensive team as we’ve talked about,” Tyndall said. “Everything is kind of manufactured and that’s not an easy situation to be in, so we’ve got to create some offense from our defense…We work on defensive transition everyday in practice. We don’t want to give up any points in transition – that’s a pretty amazing stat.”
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) December 28, 2014