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3 Takeaways: Vols Fall 92-82 at LSU

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

A matchup against an LSU squad on a 15-game losing streak seemed like the perfect remedy for a struggling Tennessee team. Instead, the Vols’ late-season swoon fell even deeper on Wednesday night as the Vols (15-15, 7-10 SEC) dropped the road contest 92-82.

Here are a few quick takeaways from the loss:

1. Off the rails: 

Tennessee’s season has taken a nose-dive at the worst possible time. Listed as an NCAA tournament team in projections just a couple weeks ago, the Vols are now in a complete tailspin, losing four of their last five games. All of those losses have been by at least nine points and the average margin of defeat has been 17.8 points. The lone victory came at home over Missouri – arguably the worst team in the league.

The losses to Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt to an extent, all made sense on some levels. All three are talented teams that are either tournament locks or fighting to make it in. But Wednesday’s loss at LSU was an inexplicable low point. Yes, the Vols are young and a bit beat up, but it was hard to imagine the team playing this poorly after getting bubble consideration not long ago. Now the NIT could even be a stretch.

2. Crucial swing costs Vols

LSU (10-19, 2-15 SEC) controlled most of the second half, so it’s tough to make a compelling argument that the Vols were going to be able to piece together a comeback in the closing moments. But Tennessee, after trailing by as many as 14 points, had the ball, down eight, with 2:31 to play. Admiral Schofield then gave up a costly turnover, giving LSU the ball and the opportunity to get to the other end for a 3-pointer at the 2:06 mark that put the Tigers back up by 11. Tennessee wouldn’t be able to get it back into single-digits until the closing minute. By then it was far too late to mount any kind of late run.

Credit the Tigers for playing a clean game overall. They hit 50 percent of their shots from the field, 47 percent from 3-point range, had just eight turnovers and had a 36-18 edge in points in the paint. The Vols matched much of that efficiency in the first half as they took a four-point lead to the break, but LSU was clearly the better team over the final 20 minutes of the contest.

3. Bright spots

It’s tough to look at the positives after a loss like that, but the effort of Grant Williams stood out. The freshman forward put together another gutsy effort, scoring 16 points and grabbing 14 boards in 30 minutes of action before fouling out in the closing moments.

Sophomore Shembari Phillips (16 points) matched his season high and freshman Jordan Bowden returned to the lineup after missing the past couple games due to illness. Tennessee was effective from beyond the arc (43%), but the Vols’ mid-range and short game were both off all evening.

Up next: The Vols will conclude the regular season with a home game against Alabama on Saturday at 1 pm ET.

Final stats:

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