Tennessee was coming off a huge win against Kentucky this weekend, and Vanderbilt was ready to pull off the upset by catching the Vols napping. And the Commodores looked like they were in a good spot at halftime of this game to do just that.
But then the Vols made another second half comeback, and Tennessee was able to win their second straight SEC game after starting out 0-2 in conference play.
The No. 24 Vols (11-4, 2-2) survived a hot start by Vanderbilt (6-10, 1-3) in the first half to pull out a 92-84 victory over the Commodores in Nashville. It’s the second straight win in Nashville over the Commodores for the Vols, and it’s the fourth time in the last five meetings in Nashville that Tennessee has beaten Vanderbilt.
Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Vols’ victory over Vanderbilt.
Vols Do It Again
For the second straight game, the Vols mounted a massive comeback in the second half to pull off a victory.
Tennessee was down by eight against No. 17 Kentucky at halftime on Saturday and faced a 10-point deficit against Vanderbilt in this game when the Commodores led 45-35 at halftime. The Vols outscored the Wildcats 47-28 in the second half on Saturday, and the Vols did something similar on Tuesday night as well, outscoring the Commodores 57-39 in the second half of this game.
Vanderbilt was draining threes left and right in the first half, and they nailed one as time expired in the first half to take that 10-point lead.
But the second half was all Vols, and Tennessee dominated Vanderbilt down low and on defense. And it led to another comeback victory.
Two Career Nights
Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield put together two fantastic games, and the Vols rode those two to victory against the Commodores.
Williams posted a new career-high by piling up 37 points, and Schofield tied his career-high with 22 points of his own. Williams filled up the stat sheet as well, adding seven rebounds, three blocks, and two assists to his 37 points. Schofield added eight rebounds too.
Williams was nearly unstoppable in this game, as he was 12-of-20 from the field and 13-of-15 from the free throw line. Schofield was even more efficient, hitting nine of his 14 field goals and connecting on three of his four three-pointers.
Jordan Bowden didn’t score at all in the first half, and he only attempted one shot. But he came out on fire in the second half, and he scored 12 points in the second half and added three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Jordan Bone hit a late, clutch three and finished with eight points, three rebounds, and two assists.
Avoided a Bad Loss
Not only would losing to Vanderbilt have killed all the momentum the Vols picked up after their win over Kentucky, but it also would’ve hurt Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament resume.
Vanderbilt entered tonight’s game with the No. 146 RPI in the country. For comparison, the Vols had the No. 11 RPI entering the game, and they had no losses to teams outside the top 25 in the RPI.
And after tonight’s comeback, Tennessee can still hold on to that unblemished record against teams outside the top 25 in the RPI.