No. 24 Tennessee continued their winning ways with one of their last “tune-up” games of the 2017-18 season with ab 81-71 victory over Lipscomb. The Vols have now won four consecutive games and are now 7-1 on the season.
Tennessee’s 7-1 mark through their first eight games is their best start to a season since they were 7-1 at the start of the 2010-11 season. That was Tennessee’s last season being led by Bruce Pearl.
Lipscomb fought hard and brought the defense in this one, but the Vols’ talent was just too much for the Bison to overcome. Tennessee fell behind 2-0 to start and that was the only time the Vols trailed. They nailed a three to go up 3-2 and never trailed after that point.
Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Vols’ win over Lipscomb
An Ugly Win is Still a Win
Tennessee won’t earn many style points from this win. But a win is still a win, no matter how ugly it was.
The Vols shot just 37 percent in the second half and were called for 20 fouls in the game. But Tennessee’s players were able to make their free throws, and that’s a big reason why they prevailed. Tennessee connected on 24 of their 30 free throw attempts.
Grant Williams led the way with 19 points, and James Daniel III had his best game as a Vol, totaling 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Admiral Schofield shot well from the field as well, totaling 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Defense Came to Play
The Vols’ offense may have been sluggish to close out the game, but the defense rarely faltered. Tennessee forced 15 Lipscomb turnovers and blocked nine shots. The Bison were able to get some easier shots off late in the game, but Tennessee’s defense played well enough to start that those late shots didn’t matter in the long run.
Tennessee’s defense has been solid to start this year, and this game was no exception. The tenacity was there even when the Vols’ offense was going cold.
Up Next, North Carolina
Tennessee was able to hold off a scrappy Lipscomb squad, but their next game will prove to be a much tougher test.
The No. 24 Vols will host No. 11 North Carolina on Sunday, December 17th in their next game. The Tarheels will be the best team the Vols have faced since they took on No. 5 Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November.
Tennessee can afford to play ugly and still win against teams like Lipscomb. But they’ll need a much better overall effort when they host the Tarheels in a little over a week.