Will the Supporting Cast Show Up?
The Vols have a two-time SEC Player of the Year, a First-Team All-SEC wing, and a Second-Team All-SEC point guard. Those three players have also been the most consistent contributors on offense and defense for Tennessee this season.
It’s the rest of UT’s supporting cast that can sometimes disappear.
Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, and Kyle Alexander have all turned in some very solid performances this season and have played well for stretches, but they’ve also disappeared for lengthy periods of time. When one, two, or all three of those players fail to make a positive impact in a game, it’s ended up costing Tennessee several times.
The good news for Lamonte Turner is that he seemed to snap out of his funk with his go-ahead three-pointer against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament. He was easily Tennessee’s best performer in the SEC Tournament Finals against Auburn, totaling 24 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three and going 7-of-12 overall. His four threes were the most he’d made in a game this season, and it totaled the amount of threes he’d made in his last seven games combined.
Jordan Bowden has returned to form as a solid contributor off the bench as of late and is averaging 11.4 points and 4.6 rebounds over his last five games. He’s also shooting 47.6 percent from three in that span.
Kyle Alexander, however, has been much more inconsistent. He totaled 16 points and nine rebounds in Tennessee’s victory over Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, but he managed just 15 combined points in the four games prior to that one, and he totaled only two points apiece in the Vols’ next two games after the quarterfinals.
Tennessee will need their top three players to perform well in order to keep winning, but if one or two of those three are having an off night, UT will need their supporting cast to step up. That will be the difference between winning and losing for the Vols this tournament.