Tennessee (13-15, 6-9 SEC) went on the road to South Carolina (23-5, 10-5 SEC) and had one of its worst performances of the year as SC rolled to an 84-58 victory, the largest margin of defeat of the season for the Vols.
Here are five quick takeaways from the blowout loss:
1. No Punter, big problem: While the Vols seemed to feed off the challenge of replacing Kevin Punter, who missed his second game in a row on Wednesday with a foot injury, in the win over LSU on Saturday, UT looked lifeless without him in Columbia. The Vols are simply asking a lot of Shembari Phillips in his absence and it looked a bit overwhelming for the freshman guard on Wednesday evening. Phillips, to his credit, did score 16 points, but struggled to get the team going in transition and turned the ball over six times as well. Punter remains day-to-day going forward.
2. Hubbs, Mostella sit in second half: Rick Barnes didn’t seem to like the way that Robert Hubbs III and Detrick Mostella played and acted early in the game. Because of that, the two talented guards sat on the bench in the second half, even as the Vols at one point cut the lead down to 13 points. Barnes put freshman walk-on Brad Woodson, who got his first career bucket on Wednesday night, into the game for much of the final 20 minutes. In his postgame remarks Barnes echoed his statements from earlier in the year that he’ll take a blowout loss to help establish the culture of the program. Barnes was not pleased that Hubbs and Mostella were making excuses for their early poor play.
3. Moore, Baulkman were bright spots: His shot wasn’t there all night, but Armani Moore, as he has all season, was a competitor who did a bit of everything for the Vols – recording a very Moore-like line of 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and two blocks. Barnes praised his competitive nature after the game. Baulkman, who has been battling a bad shoulder, was UT’s best offensive threat of the night, hitting 5 of 10 from 3-point range on his way to a team-high 19 points.
4. Road woes continue: The Vols fell to 1-13 away from Thompson-Boling Arena on the season with Wednesday’s loss. The Vols are simply a different team once they leave Knoxville. Last week’s effort at Kentucky gave UT some hope that the Vols had at least turned a corner in terms of competing on the road, but Wednesday was a big setback in that area. It won’t get any easier with a trip to Vanderbilt looming next Tuesday.
5. South Carolina gets its revenge: Tennessee was the tougher team when these squads met in Knoxville on Jan. 23. It was clear that South Carolina took that to heart and wanted to make a point on Wednesday afternoon. That’s been the other side of the coin for the Vols in terms of their home success – they make teams angry when the Vols have to go play them at their place.