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5 Observations From UT’s Win Over Vanderbilt

Donnie Tyndall-1-2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Down 47-34 with 16 minutes remaining and with foul trouble piling up on UT’s already-thin group of bigs, it looked pretty bleak for the Vols in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday night in Nashville.

But based on UT and Vandy’s first two matchups, anything can happen in this series. And craziness ensued again, as Tennessee went on an improbable 20-2 run to end the game, not only closing the gap, but pulling away in the closing seconds to secure the 67-61 win over the Commodores.

Here are five key observations from UT’s tourney win:

1. Game of runs

It came as no surprise after two crazy, run-filled games between these two teams earlier this season, but yet again, they went on some crazy stretches of scoring. Vandy had runs of 6, 7, 9 and a 12-2 spurt over the course of the game to keep a fair amount of distance between itself and Tennessee until the stretch run. That’s when the Vols put together the aforementioned 20-2 run to finish off the improbable comeback. “I thought tonight was a game of runs,” said Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall. “Our guys were very resilient.”

2. Vols fight through foul trouble, questionable calls

Tennessee’s lack of depth in the post is a concern coming into every game, but it reached crisis level early in the second half when Armani Moore and Derek Reese both picked up their fourth foul. Willie Carmichael picked up his fourth foul shortly after as well, leaving Tennessee no option but to keep Moore and Reese both in the game to battle against Vandy’s post players, including Damian Jones, who finished with 18 points and 15, with four fouls each. “Fortunately, they were able to play through foul trouble the last 12 or 14 minutes, which is hard to do against Jones because he’s a monster,” Tyndall said.

Tennessee fought through some questionable calls as well. A couple examples:

3. Vandy’s shooting cools down

After Vandy seemingly was never going to miss a 3-pointer against the Vols in the second half of the game in Knoxville on Feb. 26 (9-11), the Commodores hit their first pair of 3-pointers on Thursday, but then really cooled off, finishing 7-of-25 (28%) for the game.”We just got to them this time,” said guard Robert Hubbs. “Plain and simple. We closed out. Fortunately they missed some shot shots. We got a chance we go down the floor and played fast-paced basketball.”

4. Richardson won’t be denied

Thursday night easily could’ve been the final college basketball game of Tennessee senior Josh Richardson’s career. He wasn’t ready for that. Richardson scored 22 points (8 of 16 shooting), grabbed six rebounds, had two assists and three steals in a game-high 38 minutes. Richardson had a message for his teammates down the stretch as it looked like the game was getting away from them. “I just said that we were playing like we didn’t want to be here – like we didn’t know how to play basketball. I told them we were going to be our way home if we didn’t turn it around. I think we definitely picked it up right after that timeout.”

5. Hubbs, Baulkman step up as secondary scorers

Richardson stepping up is nothing new for Tennessee. But finding consistent second and third options has been more of a chore at times. Robert Hubbs III and Devon Baulkman played those roles on Thursday night, with Hubbs scoring 16 points and Baulkman (who averages just 4.4 ppg) adding a dozen points and six rebounds. Hubbs, especially hit some big shots, including a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer and a another trey with 2:13 remaining to give the Vols a 64-61 lead – an edge they would never relinquish.

Final Stats: 

Best UT Vine:






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