3 Observations from Tennessee’s Loss to Gonzaga

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    Tennessee rebounded well after a rough first half against No. 8 Gonzaga, but the Vols’ comeback attempt fell just short in a 86-76 loss to the Bulldogs in Nashville.

    Here’s three observations from Tennessee’s loss to the Bulldogs:

    First Half Ugly Once Again

    Tennessee opened up the game struggling to stop Gonzaga from deep. The Bulldogs started the game making six of their first 10 3-pointers at 7:39 in the first half. The Vols gave up similar numbers to Lipscomb on Thursday, but managed to put together some stops and win the game with a strong second half performance. The Bulldogs finished the game 9-of-20 from behind the arc.

    The Vols closed out the half well, outscoring the Zags 17-12 in the final 10 minutes. Once Tennessee strung together a couple of 3-point shots, the Vols found success. Gonzaga’s offense was red-hot due to its 3-point shooting in the opening frame.

    Needless to say, the first half score could have been much uglier than it was, and Tennessee did a good job fighting its way back into the game after struggling mightily early.

    Mostella Shoots Tennessee Back in it

    Detrick Mostella took over the game in the second half, giving Tennessee a chance late. At the 7:34 mark in the second half, the lead was down to single digits (67-58).

    Mostella scored two points in seven first half minutes, but caught fire in the second half. The sophomore guard finished with 17 points, shooting 5-of-12 from the field in the second half.

    Behind Mostella, Tennessee didn’t have many go-to guys. The Vols had two other players in double figures (Williams, 11; Hubbs 10). The Vols needed a second player to step up. Down the stretch, the Vols just couldn’t match the high-powered Gonzaga offense.

    Interior Defense Struggles

    Gonzaga is much bigger and more experienced down low than Tennessee, especially without John Fulkerson starting on the low post. The Bulldogs scored 28 points in the paint, compared to Tennessee’s 14.

    7-foot-1 senior Przemek Karnowski was dominant underneath, scoring 10 points and adding 9 boards. 7-foot freshman Zach Collins, despite fouling out, also had 10 points in 18 minutes off the bench. Lew Evans struggled on the low block, scoring 8 points on 1-of-8 shooting. Evans couldn’t contain the Gonzaga big men in place of Fulkerson.

    Tennessee put up a solid effort against a more experienced, bigger team, but in the end its youth showed again. The Vols showed they can compete against an elite opponent once again, but was outrebounded 41-36.