Three Quick Takeaways: LSU Handles Tennessee In Baton Rouge

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    National Championship Alabama Vs. Georgia Receiving Props

    LSU out hustled and dominated Tennessee for 40 minutes Saturday in Baton Rouge, earning an easy 79-67 victory.

    Here are three quick takeaways on the Tigers’ fourth straight win over Tennessee.

    Tennessee Gets To The Free Throw Line

    Tennessee entered Saturday’s matchup attempting just 13.2 free throws a game— the least of any SEC team. The Vols made 13 and shot 19 in the first half as they found a way to get to the charity stripe more than they have in any game this season.

    The Vols got to the free throw line in large part due to the aggression of Kennedy Chandler and the tight whistle from the officiating crew.

    In the first half, Tennessee got in the bonus with six-plus minutes left in the half and they capitalized on it. At one point, the Vols tallied nine straight points at the free throw line.

    In the last nine minutes of the first half, Tennessee made just four field goals. However, the Vols stayed in striking distance with a hot shooting Tigers team thanks to their ability to get to the line.

    Tennessee kept getting to the line in the second half and for the second time all season, the charity stripe was an area the Vols found consistent points.

    But as has been the care most of the season, Tennessee shoot poorly once they got there. The Vols made just 23 of their 37 free throws and missed the front end of three one-and-ones.

    LSU also struggled at the free throw line (63%) so its hard to say the game was decided simply at the line, but Tennessee could have changed the game with better shooting there.

    Worst Defensive Performance Of The Season

    There aren’t many teams that can beat LSU when playing defense as poorly as the Vols did Saturday. Tennessee, a team that prides itself on great defense and is inconsistent at best on offense, gave itself no chance with an embarrassing defensive effort.

    LSU entered the game ranked 84th in offensive efficiency on KenPom, but eviscerated the second-ranked Tennessee defensive.

    Tennessee’s defensive breakdowns were numerous. LSU made 17 shots at the rim, making 57% of its attempts thanks to weak interior defense. Horrible turnovers in the backcourt led to some of the easy layups at the hoop, but the Vols had defensive lapses that they hadn’t all season.

    Then there was the Vols’ pathetic effort on the defensive glass. LSU out rebounded the Vols’ 41-33 including 14-10 on the offensive side. At the halfway point in the second half, LSU had seven offensive rebounds and 14 total rebounds in the frame. Tennessee had just two total rebounds with the only two defensive rebounds coming off missed free throws.

    Speaking of missed free throws, LSU grabbed two offensive rebounds off of misses at the charity triple.

    Add an elite shooting performance — LSU made eight-of-18 threes — on top of all that and it was a recipe for disaster.

    The Vols’ defensive energy picked up a big way in the game’s final 10 minutes, but it was too little too late for Tennessee to earn the comeback victory.

    Fulkerson No Shows, Plavsic Plays Best Half Of Career

    For the second straight game, John Fulkerson was a non factor in the road loss. The super senior caught COVID-19 after his 24-point performance in the Vols’ win over Arizona and has been ineffective since.

    Fulkerson totaled just three points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of playing before being benched for the vast majority of the second half. The lefty was soft on both ends of the floor and looked like the player  we saw all of last season.

    On the other side, Uros Plavsic played one of his best games in a Tennessee uniform. The Serbia native scored 12 points, all in the second half, on five-of-eight shooting from the field.

    Plavsic gave the Vols inside scoring in the second half and was a main reason Tennessee was able to make a second half run.

    The Vols need much more from John Fulkerson going forward, but Plavsic was able to pick up some of the slack.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.