3 Observations: No. 18 Tennessee 84, LSU 61

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    The No. 18 Vols kept their good vibes rolling on Wednesday night, as they handled LSU en route to a 84-61 victory.

    Tennessee (16-5, 6-3) trailed for all of 31 seconds of game time in this one, and that was all early in the first half. Once the Vols took a 7-6 lead over LSU (12-9, 3-6) with three and a half minutes gone in the first half, they never looked back.

    Grant Williams exited early in this game with injury, but he returned later in the first half and helped spur the Vols on to victory. LSU came into this game with only seven scholarship players available because of four players getting suspended earlier in the week.

    And that lack of depth showed for the Tigers in the second half.

    The Vols wore LSU down with their tenacious defense, and Tennessee used a team effort to bury the shorthanded Tigers. Tennessee has now won four straight games and seven of their last eight contests.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Vols’ dominating win over LSU.

    Everyone Gets Involved

    It wasn’t just a two or three man show for Tennessee in this game; all but one Vol who played against the Tigers finished with at least one made field goal.

    Eleven different Vols scored in this game, and they were led by James Daniel’s sharpshooting effort. Daniel made five of his seven three-pointers, and he had a team-high 17 points. He also added three assists.

    Grant Williams added 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists in just 22 minutes. Jordan Bone had an impressive outing with 12 points and eight assists, and Lamonte Turner added 12 points as well.

    Team Ball Leads to Points

    Tennessee has been their best this season when they’re able to spread the ball around and create shots for teammates. And that’s exactly what happened against LSU.

    The Vols had 24 assists on 33 made field goals in this game. Compare that to LSU’s nine assists on 22 made buckets, and it’s easy to see which team had the more efficient offense.

    Jordan Bone tied his career-high with eight assists, and seven other Vols had at least one assist in the game. The Vols were also a blistering 12-of-25 from behind the three-point line in this game.

    Tennessee played without Grant Williams for an extended stretch in the first half and had to deal with Admiral Schofield being in foul trouble all night. Yet players stepped up when needed, and team ball prevailed.

    Can’t Continue Sloppy Stretches

    The Vols were able to survive some sloppy play against LSU just like they did against Iowa State and Vanderbilt the past couple games. But that can’t continue when Tennessee faces the likes of Kentucky and Florida in the coming weeks.

    Tennessee had just five turnovers in the first half, but they turned it over nine times in the second half, and they let LSU get back to within six points when they cut Tennessee’s lead to 53-47 with 12:15 to go. The Vols had led by 11 at the half.

    Luckily for the Vols, LSU was both not a great team and shorthanded for the game. Tennessee also had similar bad stretches against Iowa State and Vanderbilt but were able to weather those storms as well. But neither of those teams were great either, and the Vols got lucky their inconsistent play for long periods of time didn’t cost them.

    The Vols won’t be so lucky against teams like Kentucky, Florida, and Alabama.

    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.