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Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee’s Long Winning Streak Over Vanderbilt Comes To An End

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tn. — Tennessee was four seconds away from its 12th straight win over instate rival Vanderbilt which would have marked a new record in the series.

But Santiago Vescovi missed the front end of the bonus and Tyrin Lawrence drilled a game winning triple to give Vanderbilt a, 66-65, victory.

Here’s three quick takeaways on the loss.

Vols Get Offensive Aggression From Two Guys They Need It From

Coming off a week where Tennessee’s offense faltered in multiple games, the Vols came to Nashville looking for offensive answers. One of the obvious answers was more production from transfer guard Tyreke Key and freshman wing Julian Phillips.

Both players not only have been ineffective for stretches offensively this season but have faded to the background, looking tentative on the offensive end.

Key was the prime example of that, even admitting as much to the media last month. But against the Commodores Key was aggressive as could be, scoring 14 points on six-of-12 shooting from the field. It was more shots than he’s taken in a game all season.

With Zakai Zeigler battling foul trouble, and Rick Barnes’ ire at times, Key saw extended minutes and gave Tennessee exactly what it needed in a game where its defense had some uncharacteristic lapses.

Phillips’ five shot attempts paled in comparison to Key’s 12 but they the freshman was still quite aggressive. The 6-foot-8 wing hit Tennessee’s first field goal and attacked the basket with vigor that’s often missing.

Vanderbilt is a very poor defensive team so the performances aren’t season shattering. But the aggression was uncharacteristic and something the Vols need more of down the stretch.

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Vanderbilt’s Offense Gives Tennessee Problems

Tennessee’s coaches rave about Jerry Stackhouse’s offensive sets and the trouble they give the Vols’ stout defense year-over-year.

It was on display at Memorial Gymnasium Wednesday night as the Commodores totaled 66 points, well over Tennessee’s season average.

In the first half, it was largely Vanderbilt hitting difficult shots. The Commodores started red-hot from three-point range and many were contested, including two on Vanderbilt big man Liam Robbins. Robbins entered the game with just six made threes on the season while shooting at a 18% clip. The Minnesota transfer made his first two attempts and three in the first half including an impressive step back as the shot clock expired.

But in the second half, Tennessee had plenty of uncharacteristic breakdowns that led to open Commodore looks from two and three-point range.

Many said breakdowns came on screens where Tennessee miscommunicated on switches and Vanderbilt capitalized.

The final result was a 66 point night for Vanderbilt’s offense on 44% shooting from the field and 40% shooting from three-point range.

Tennessee Lets One Slip Away Late

Tennessee was in the perfect spot to win. Holding possession with a two-point lead less than 25 seconds and Vanderbilt having to foul five times to send the Vols to the bonus.

Julian Phillips even turned down what was a wide open dunk that would have given Tennessee a two possession lead. But Santiago Vescovi missed the front end of the bonus and Vanderbilt got to draw up a play with four seconds remaining.

It was a dandy as Jerry Stackhouse got Tyrin Lawrence a wide open corner three-pointer and the junior guard buried it as time expired to give Vanderbilt the win.

The Commodores victory ended Tennessee’s 11-game winning streak in the series.

Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee returns to Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday night to face Missouri. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. ET with the SEC Network broadcasting the game.

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