5 Observations From UT’s 94-86 Loss at Butler

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    Kevin Punter-1-12

    The Vols lost 94-86 at Butler in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon. Here are five observations, stats and a few highlights from the game:

    1. Late errors cost the Vols: The score, in many ways, wasn’t really a great indicator of how close this game was, or how hard the Vols fought at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Tennessee led by as many as 10 in the first half and kept the game within a few possessions the entire afternoon. The Vols, trailing 88-83 with the ball and under three minutes remaining, were in position to mount a late charge. But Armani Moore had a questionable traveling call go against him at the 3:23 mark.

    Moore then missed a pair of lay-ups less than a minute later, missing an opportunity to make it a one-possession game. Butler went on to score the next six points in the game, essentially putting it out of reach. There’s no guarantee that Tennessee would’ve been able to finish off the comeback, but those late errors certainly cost Tennessee a chance to win it in the closing minute.

    2. Mixed results from mixed defenses: With two weeks off, Rick Barnes clearly had some time to make some defensive adjustments, and the zone was a bigger part of the defensive strategy than it normally is under Barnes. It worked early. Butler, perhaps a bit surprised by the frequency of the zone look, was off on its shot early as Tennessee built a lead. The Bulldogs shot 42.4% from the field in the first half, well below their season average. But credit them for making adjustments. They moved the ball better in the second half, drew some plays up to get some easy lobs into the paint and really upped their offensive efficiency late in the game. Tennessee went back to man later in the game, though it was too late then. Butler shot 51.7% from the field and 41.7% from 3-point range over the final 20 minutes.

    3. Punter shoulders the scoring load again: This can almost be a copy/paste observation. Tennessee, which was playing without Robert Hubbs III (knee) simply doesn’t have a ton of options in terms of scoring, leaving a lot of the burden on Kevin Punter. Even battling late foul trouble, he responded with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-23 shooting. He missed a couple potentially big shots late that the Vols would’ve liked to have had, but he can only do so much on a team that is offensively limited.

    4. Butler owns the rebounding battle: Tennessee got crushed in pretty much every way on the boards. Butler won the overall rebounding battle 39-26 and doubled up UT 14-7 on the offensive glass. The Vols got pretty good efforts from Armani Moore (6 rebounds) and Admiral Schofield (7) on the boards, but got almost no help from the true big men. Derek Reese, Ray Kasongo and Kyle Alexander combined for just three rebounds in 45 combined minutes played. Tennessee simply must have more to be competitive going forward.

    5. Schofield steps up: One pleasant surprise was the performance by freshman wing Admiral Schofield, who got the starting nod for Hubbs and stepped up to the challenge. Schofield scored a career-high 16 points (which happens to be right at Hubbs’ season average), had a team-high seven rebounds and added a pair of assists. One downside, however, was putting Schofield in the starting lineup really limited the bench options. Tennessee got outscored 35-8 in that area. Schofield could be a nice boost off the bench in SEC play if he performs like that, but UT will likely need him in the starting lineup for now.

    Final Stats: