Tennessee followed up its huge win against Kentucky with another failure on the road, dropping one to Arkansas 85-67 on Saturday evening.
Here are five quick takeaways from the game:
1. Inconsistency still reigns: This team has been tough to predict all season and that was true on Saturday evening as well. There was hope among UT fans that perhaps that Kentucky game would be a turning point that would push the Vols towards a strong finish to the season, but the Vols didn’t really do any of the things that they did well against Kentucky at Arkansas on Saturday on their way to the largest margin of defeat all season.
2. Where’s the defense? The Vols seemed to find a new level of defense in the final 25 minutes against Kentucky. That was nowhere to be found on Saturday evening. The Razorbacks did about whatever they wanted – going around UT defenders like they weren’t there and moving the ball around to get open shots from the perimeter, which they capitalized on with a 41% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. And it wasn’t just Moses Kingsley (17 points) who hurt the Vols. Arkansas spread the ball around with five different players scoring in double figures. Tennessee didn’t have much answer for any of them.
3. APB for Hubbs, Baulkman: When things go poorly for Tennessee, often times that duo isn’t making any kind of impact. That was certainly the case against Arkansas. They scored a combined four points in a combined 29 minutes of game time between them. Baulkman, especially, has been ice cold from 3-point range, having now only hit two of his last 17 attempts from behind the arc. Those two are leaving almost all the burden on Kevin Punter (24 points) and Armani Moore (11 points), who can only carry the team so far.
4. Phillips a bright spot: I always try to find at least one bright spot for Tennessee fans even in the worst of UT losses, and I thought freshman Shembari Phillips qualified as that on Saturday evening. With Hubbs and Baulkman struggling, Phillips gave the Vols a bit of a scoring presence on the wing with 12 points (3-6 from 3-point range) and added three assists. He struggled to defend without fouling, however, as he racked up five personal fouls in 23 minutes of game time. Like Kyle Alexander, the light is coming on a bit more for Phillips, so expect to see him more down the stretch as the Vols start to think about the future more and more.
5. What’s next?: There’s no reason to be too fatalistic about this loss, because Tennessee all season long has proven that it can get up off the mat. The Vols will have a great opportunity to do just that in the next week with Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers returning to Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday night, likely without leading scorer Kareem Canty, who was suspended indefinitely over the weekend. The Vols will then travel to last-place Missouri next weekend to try to get their second road victory of the season.
Final stats: pic.twitter.com/G1G45Q1Lel
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) February 7, 2016