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Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee Knocks Off Georgia Southern

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball made quick and easy work of Georgia Southern on Tuesday night, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and cruising to a 74-56 victory.

Jonas Aidoo continued his recent strong play and plenty of Vols’ underclassmen got extended minutes despite a terrible second half performance. Here’s three quick takeaways on Tennessee’s third straight win.

The Jonas Aidoo Show

Jonas Aidoo made a layup. He made one of two free throws a minute later and a corner three-pointer 25 seconds later. Another Aidoo layup came 102 seconds later.

Jonas Aidoo 10, Georgia Southern 0.

The Vols’ junior forward scored the game’s first 10 points and didn’t look back on his way to a career performance. A week after scoring a career-high 17 points in Tennessee’s win over George Mason, Aidoo set a new career-high. It only took him only 14:06 of game time to achieve it.

Aidoo was dominant on the defensive end, anchoring the Vols’ defense and blocking two shots. He was solid on the glass, totaling 11 rebounds. But it was on the offensive end where Aidoo most showed out again.

The junior big man scored over Georgia Southern’s small front court at a high-rate, totaling 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting from three-point range.

Aidoo’s strong performance doesn’t mean a ton on its own, but combined with how confident and comfortable he’s been on the offensive end of the court early this season it’s another strong indication of how much the Vols’ big man has improved offensively.

Aidoo has scored in double figures in Tennessee’s last four games and in six of 10 games this season.

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Tennessee’s Freshmen Get Extended Minutes

I wrote about how these final four games before conference play began would be the last real chance for the Vols’ quartet of freshmen to make their case that they deserve legit rotation minutes.

Thanks to Tennessee’s fast start all four freshmen got first half playing time. Cade Phillips was the first off the bench followed by Cameron Carr, Freddie Dilione and JP Estrella— for whatever that is worth.

None of the freshmen did anything spectacular but Cameron Carr and Freddie Dilione’s energy on the defensive end of the court stood out. Carr blocked a shot on his first possession in the game and capped off the possession by grabbing a contested rebound.

Dilione did show off his offensive skillset with a nice transition finish and a corner three a possession later.

Phillips didn’t do anything spectacular but his game isn’t predicated on that. The freshman power forward grabbed an offensive rebound, dished out an assist and blocked a shot in the win. Estrella played the fewest minutes of the bunch but did have a nice back to the basket bucket on the final possession of the first half.

A Bad Second Half Performance

As good as Tennessee played in the first half, they played worse in the second half. Georgia Southern, who is the Vols’ worst opponent this season according to KenPom, out played Tennessee in the second half.

Georgia Southern outscored Tennessee 35-25 in the second half and doubled up the Vols 29-14 in the second half by the under eight media timeout.

The Vols couldn’t get shots to fall, and that’s one thing, but their lack of energy on the defensive end and on the glass will leave Rick Barnes irate exiting the game. Georgia Southern grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the second half. While that’s a real concern for Tennessee this season, it happening against a short Georgia Southern team was pretty inexcusable.

Turnovers and general sloppiness were a theme as Tennessee turned it over 19 times total and 12 times in the second half. Taking care of the basketball hasn’t been a concern for Tennessee this season.

Georgia Southern cut Tennessee’s lead to as few as 13 points in the second half before the Vols used a 9-0 run to push their lead back out. But even after that, Tennessee’s sloppy play continued and they didn’t cruise to the finish line.

A bad half with a massive lead isn’t the end of the world but it will no doubt leave Barnes upset and give him plenty of teaching points the rest of the week in practice.

Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee heads to San Antonio on Saturday night where they’ll face North Carolina State at 10 p.m. ET. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.

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