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3 Takeaways: Arkansas Hangs On For 82-78 Victory

Photo Credit: Nick Davis/RTI

Tennessee battled down to the final seconds against Arkansas in Knoxville on Tuesday evening. It wasn’t enough, however. The Vols, after one point leading by as many as 13 in the first half, fell 82-78, falling to 1-1 in conference play and 8-6 on the season.

Here are a few quick takeaways from the loss:

1. Vols are close, but finishing is still a challenge 

So close. That’s been the description of this Tennessee team several times this season, not only in individual games, but also as a general assessment of the program. Tennessee, again, outplayed a more experienced and arguably more talented team for large portions of Tuesday night’s game, but couldn’t make the clutch plays at the end.

Credit Arkansas for stepping up and knocking down some big free throws late – 11 of 12 in the final 1:31 to be exact. But Tennessee had some opportunities late to tie or take a lead, and couldn’t get the job done. One particularly costly error was freshman Jordan Bone throwing the ball into traffic, leading to an Arkansas steal with :34 remaining. Another was a missed layup by Detrick Mostella with :11 that would’ve cut the Arkansas lead to one. This UT team can seemingly play with anybody for 40 minutes, but lacks the confidence, or the ability, to finish off tight games against top competition.

“I still don’t think we value winning yet,” Barnes said in his postgame presser.

That’s a tough indictment, but one that might be true until the Vols can pull out a few more big victories.

2. Grant Williams is an emerging star

The 6-foot-5 freshman hit double-digit scoring (15 points) for the fourth time in UT’s last five games. He’s making his presence felt on the boards as well. He recorded a season-high 11 rebounds to give him his first career double-double. He also added a pair of blocks, including this one against SEC Preseason Player of the Year Moses Kingsley:

Williams wasn’t a big-time recruit, he’s not always flashy and he’s a little bit of a tweener in terms of his size and overall skill set. But the Charlotte native is becoming one of the most consistent players on the floor for the Vols. He’s an emerging star for Rick Barnes and this program.

3. Guards need to step up 

Barnes wasn’t too happy with his guard play. It was an issue on both ends of the floor. Defensively, the UT guards struggled to defend against cutting Arkansas players, leading to plenty of easy buckets and a 50% night from the floor for the Razorbacks.

On the offensive end, the guards got a bit too infatuated with the 3-ball. UT guards were 4-of-17 (23.5%) from 3-point territory against the Hogs on Tuesday, leading Barnes to point out that he doesn’t want his guards to be “volume shooters.” Perhaps some of the younger backcourt players could take a cue from senior guard/wing Robert Hubbs, who had an extremely efficient night with 21 points on 9-of-14 (64.3%) shooting.

Hubbs also had one of the best plays of the night on this feed from Kwe Parker:

Final stats:

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