3 Observations: No. 22 Tennessee 68, Iowa State 45

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    SEC play was interrupted for the Big 12/SEC challenge for Tennessee on Saturday. And the No. 22 Vols didn’t let the bump in the conference schedule interrupt their winning ways.

    Tennessee entered Saturday’s game against Iowa State on a two-game win streak, and they extended it to three after handling Iowa State 68-45 on Saturday. The Vols (15-5) were able to overcome a putrid start and ended up dominating the Cyclones (11-9) for the final half hour of game time.

    The Vols will get back to conference play for the remainder of the regular season after this game.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s impressive

    Complete 180

    Tennessee couldn’t make a shot to start the game. The Vols were barely shooting better than 10 percent for the first 10 minutes of the game, and they were down 14-9 with 9:51 to play in the first half.

    Then the Vols came alive. And the rest of the game belonged to the team in orange.

    The Vols closed the first half on a 22-5 run and held a 31-19 lead at halftime. The second half saw more Tennessee dominance, and the Vols were nailing threes left and right after their abysmal beginning to the game.

    Tennessee wound up shooting 50 percent in the second half, and Iowa State shot just 33.3 percent for the game. Iowa State’s 45 points were the fewest an opponent had scored on the Vols all season.

    Good from Downtown

    The Vols aren’t the most prolific three-point shooting team around. While they do hit 38.8 percent of their threes on the year (heading into today’s game), they only attempt 20.1 threes per game. The three isn’t usually the focal point of the Vols’ offense.

    But this game saw Tennessee change tactics. And it worked.

    Tennessee attempted 30 threes against Iowa State, and they nailed 40 percent of them, including a solid 50 percent in the second half. Iowa State, on the other hand, made just 23.5 percent of their 17 threes for the entire game.

    The Vols scored 36 of their 68 points from behind the three point arc, and half of their made field goals were from threes.

    Showing Off the Depth

    Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield weren’t on their game against Iowa State. But that didn’t matter, as Tennessee was able to use their depth to find a different way to win against the Cyclones.

    Williams shot just 30 percent in the game, and Schofield wasn’t any better, hitting just 3 of his 12 shots. The two combined for just 19 points in the game.

    But Tennessee’s role players and bench did plenty to carry the Vols to victory.

    James Daniel III and Lamonte Turner led the way for the Vols, totaling a combined 36 points. Turner led the game with 20 points, and Daniel had 16 points and added three rebounds and three assists.

    The Vols had to do it in an unconventional way, but they found a way to win on Saturday.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.