1. Game of runs: It was a seesaw affair from the start, and the Vols didn’t have enough time to tip the scales back in their favor before the final horn sounded. After giving up 12 straight points to Vanderbilt midway through the first half that saw them trail by as many as 11, Tennessee would enter halftime with a 30-19 lead after closing the game’s first twenty minutes with a 25-3 run over the visiting Commodores. After some back-and-forth possessions to start the second half, however, Vanderbilt would go on a big run of their own, ultimately outscoring the Vols 41-20 over the final 13:38 of the game.
Donnie Tyndall offered a pretty simple answer when asked about the streaky nature of the game in his post-game media session.
“That is basketball,” Tyndall Said. “They started the game right and took the big league. We finished the half the right way and started the second half the right way for the most part taking our lead. They made their run to seal the game the last 10 minutes. That is basketball. They are a really good team. I said that when we won over there.”
2. Winning the glass: Sometimes the stats just don’t make sense, and the rebounding totals from tonight’s game are a prime example. The Vols out-rebounded Vanderbilt 37-19 on the night, including a stunning 19-1 margin on the offensive boards. For a team that ranked 256th nationally in rebounds per game heading into the contest, the Vols played well over their heads as they out-scrapped, out-hustled and out-toughed a taller Vanderbilt team on both ends of the glass. This led to Tennessee’s 24-0 lead in second-chance point and was one of the main reasons they were able to muster their 22 points in the paint.
A perplexed Donnie Tyndall shared his thoughts on the rebounding battle after the game by noting that Vanderbilt’s hot shooting was a big reason for the large differential on the glass:
“We gave up one offensive rebound and lose, I don’t know if that has ever happened,” Tyndall said. “I don’t think it was for lack of effort. Our guys, we had to help over, they kept drawing kick threes and in the first half they didn’t make many and the second half they did.
“I don’t think we took bad shots we just didn’t drive the ball enough. We out rebound that team by 18, 24 second chance points that is just about guarding them at the other end.”
3. Derek Reese: The oft-maligned Derek Reese turned in one of the best performances of his career in tonight’s loss to Vanderbilt. The junior from Orlando scored a career-high 13 points in his team’s defeat, besting a previous record of 12 points in a game (three times), which most recently matched in Tennessee’s earlier game against Vanderbilt on February 11th.
Reese wasn’t interested in discussing his career night after the loss, however, instead opting to focus on maintaining a high level of play and confidence heading into Saturday’s matchup against Florida in Gainesville:
“It’s tough. It’s tough to lose like that. That’s basketball. It’s competition. Any sport can go like that. So you have to play a full 40 minutes. It’s a tough one to lose. “If we feel sorry for ourselves, next game or whatever game, they’ll bury us. It’s a business. You gotta pick yourself up, stay motivated, and keep going.”
4. The And-1 that never was: With 4:04 remaining in the game and the Vols trailing 59-52, Armani Moore started his drive to the basket against Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones. Moore blew by Jones on his way to the rim, but Commodore hero Luke Kornet was waiting under the basket after sliding over from his help-side defensive position.
It appeared that Kornet’s feet were on the line of the “block/charge circle” on the floor, but the official saw it differently. Moore was instead whistled for the charge, wiping his made basket off the board and turning a potential three-point play and 59-55 deficit into a turnover. Vanderbilt would answer with back-to-back dunks from the aforementioned Jones and Kornet to push the Commodores’ lead to 63-52, and the Vols were essentially done.
Here’s a look at the play, which was naturally met by a chorus of boos from most fans in attendance.
You be the judge.
Here's the charge call on Armani Moore https://t.co/NrKVhJyPoH
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) February 27, 2015
5. 3’s 3’s 3’s: As has become an all-to-familiar site for Tennessee players and fans in recent weeks, the opposition once again went white-hot from beyond the arc. Vanderbilt would finish the night 13-of-25 from deep, but it was their second-half performance that finally put them ahead for good.
The Commodores shot a sizzling 9-of-11 from long range in the after halftime, both misses coming from Matthew Fisher-Davis who added three triples himself in the second half. But while Fisher’s 60-percent clip after the break was impressive, it was the combined 6-of-6 shooting from Kornet and Wade Baldwin that jump off the sheet. Kornet would go 4-of-4 from behind the line and Baldwin would hit both of his attempts to swing momentum towards Vanderbilt and help avenge the earlier loss to the Vols in Nashville.
Coach Tyndall said he tried everything he could think of in attempts to disrupt Vanderbilt shooters in the second half, but offered a lot of credit to Tennessee’s opponent for simply hitting shots:
“They were 9-for-11 from three the second half and one of the two rimmed in and out about three times,” Tyndall said in his opening statement to the gathered media at his post-game press conference. “They just shot it incredibly well. We tried every defense, we changed our zones, we went man-to-man, we tried to trap the corner to get them out of rhythm, we just couldn’t get the shooters, a lot of it stemmed from not guarding the dribble as we had to help over and take away layups or dribble penetration in the paint. They kicked it out and made some tough threes.”
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) February 27, 2015