Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee Suffocates South Carolina

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    Chicago Bears have fired GM Ryan Pace & HC Matt Nagy

    After falling behind in the game’s first 10 minutes, Tennessee used great defense and a strong middle eight minutes to easily handle South Carolina, 66-46.

    Here’s three quick takeaways.

    Vols Getting To Free Throw Line But Can’t Capitalize

    Entering SEC play shooting the least amount of free throws per conference game, Tennessee’s offense seemed like it would be reliant on an inconsistent three-point shot.

    However, Tennessee has done a fantastic job of getting to the free throw line in all of its SEC games, especially at LSU when they shot 37 and tonight against South Carolina when they shot 25.

    Still, Tennessee’s offensive issues are persisting for a number of reasons. Included is the fact that the Vols are shooting at an abysmal rate at the charity stripe.

    That cost Tennessee Tuesday and allowed the Gamecocks to hang around for much of the game. Tennessee made just 11-of-25 attempts in the win. In the first half, Tennessee made just half of its attempts only made both free throws one time.

    Kennedy Chandler’s struggles at the free throw line continued in the win with the point guard making just three-of-eight attempts. The Memphis native missed the front end of the bonus twice in the first half as Tennessee’s offense faltered.

    Getting to the free throw line is a promising development for Tennessee but they’ve yet to truly capitalize on it. Tennessee has struggled at the charity stripe all season and there doesn’t seem to be signs of it really improving.

    Still, the Vols simply have to be better than the 44% they shot Tuesday.

    Tennessee Takes Control In The Middle Eight

    In football, the game’s middle 10 minutes are often the most important and can completely flip games.

    Tennessee used the game’s middle eight minutes to open up a lead the Gamecocks would never really threaten.

    With four minutes left in the first half South Carolina held a 19-18 lead. The Vols proceeded to go on a 22-8 run into the first media timeout of the second half. It started with hot three-point shooting as the Vols used a contested Josiah Jordan James triple to give them a 30-24 lead at the intermission.

    Tennessee came out just as dominant in the second half quickly pushing its lead to 13 before the first media timeout.

    South Carolina would never cut Tennessee’s lead to single digits again as its underwhelming offense couldn’t overcome the Vols’ stifling defense.

    Zeigler Brings The Spark

    Tennessee hadn’t made a basket when its first reserves checked into the game. That’s where Zakai Zeigler entered. The freshman point guard scored on a pair of driving layups to get the lid off the rim for Tennessee.

    The Bronx, New York native provided the spark on both sides of the ball throughout the game for Tennessee.

    Zeigler was the best player on the floor for Tennessee in the game as the young freshman continues to get better for the Vols.

    The point guard scored 11 points on five-of-eight shooting from the field while adding four assists and just one turnover. Zeigler is one of the few players on this team that can get to the basket and create his own shot. He seems to be getting more-and-more comfortable doing so.

    What makes Zeigler so effective though is his ability to influence the game on both ends of the floor. The point guard brought energy on the defensive end that fueled the Vols.

    The 5-foot-9 guard totaled a game high four steals in the win and often turned them into points on the other end.

    And about Zeigler’s promise that he’d never back down or get “punched” by anyone?

    South Carolina tried to abuse him when he got switched on a far larger forward. Ziegler tipped the ball out of his hands to a teammate, leading to a transition basket.

    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.