Tennessee ended a four-game losing streak to LSU Saturday night, leading start-to-finish behind elite defense and improved three-point shooting. The, 64-50, win moves the Vols to 4-3 in SEC play.
Vols Come Out Bombing From Deep
The Tennessee team that shot 40 threes in its exhibition game and the first game of the season showed back up, particularly early, at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday.
The Vols didn’t take their third two-pointer until the under eight timeout in the first half. Tennessee had good reason to keep taking triples, making six of its first 11 attempts from deep.
Tennessee used the strong three-point shooting and elite defense to jump on LSU much like they did Arizona earlier this season. The Vols jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led by double-digits until the 7:27 mark when their offense began to stall.
At halftime, 21 of Tennessee’s 28 points came from three-pointers as LSU’s stout interior defense and the Vols’ lack of front court scoring made points in the paint hard to come by. Still, most of the perimeter looks were open and a product of good ball movement.
Tennessee ended the game 10-of-28 from three-point range. Not an elite mark, but still a step forward for this team. With the way these Vols play defense, 36% shooting from three-point range will win them a lot of games. Especially at home.
Santiago Vescovi led the way, making five-of-11 three-point attempts and tying the game high 16 points..
Tennessee’s Defense Suffocates LSU
Unlike most LSU teams under head coach Will Wade, these Tigers are built on their defensive prowess instead of a high powered offense.
The Vols did not exploit that in the first meeting between the two teams, but turned the tide Saturday night in Knoxville.
Tennessee was physical and dominated LSU’s offense that was reliant on front court stars Darius Days and Tari Eason. The Vols did a good job of limiting the LSU stars. Eason’s 16 points was right at his season average, but Tennessee shut Days down, holding the senior forward to five points on two-of-10 shooting from the field.
LSU’s 50 points were its least of the season. Turnovers (14) weren’t a massive problem for LSU, but finding open looks absolutely was.
The Tigers shot just 21-of-54 (39%) from the field and four-of-19 (21%) from three-point range.
Vols Survive Late LSU Push
The second half followed much of the same arc that the first did. Tennessee extended its lead early in the second half, taking a double-digit lead and holding it for much of the frame.
However, LSU — like all good teams — made a run at Tennessee. The Tigers used an 11-4 run ending at the five minute mark to pull within six.
The Tigers’ full court press was giving Tennessee issues and a few defensive miscommunications led to easy LSU baskets in the half court.
From there, Tennessee sparked into career. A John Fulkerson and-one on a goaltending put the Vols back ahead by eight. On the other end, Uros Plavsic blocked a shot leading LSU coach Will Wade to erupt on the sideline hoping for goaltending.
Tennessee used Zakai Zeigler’s first made basket of the game — a triple on the right wing — to push its lead back to double digits. LSU would never pull within 10. In fact, the stretch started a 13-0 run and the Tigers wouldn’t score again until the 1:22 mark, when the game was well in hand.
The Vols rolled with their free guard lineup down the stretch and they didn’t disappoint, making the right play time-after-time and getting Tennessee to the finish line.