Tennessee Basketball: 5 Takeaways from Vols’ Loss to Arkansas Razorbacks

Tennessee basketball fell to Arkansas at home 82-78 Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from the Volunteers’ loss to the Hogs.

A heartbreaking loss at home to the two-loss Arkansas Razorbacks knocked Tennessee basketball to 1-1 in the SEC and 8-6 on the year.

Rick Barnes’s Vols suffered from a red-hot Hogs run at the end of the first half and start of the second half and could never close the deficit once Arkansas took the lead early in the second half.

Every time Tennessee got close, Arkansas had an answer, whether it was defensively or offensively.

Tennessee went into halftime with a 39-37 lead in what was a half of runs, and the Razorbacks continued their run into the second half before the teams just went back and forth to the end.

With the win, Mike Anderson’s team moves to 12-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference as well.

Here are five takeaways from Tennessee basketball’s loss to Arkansas.

1. Grant Williams continues to make the strongest case for the starting point-forward.

He has been inconsistent, but Grant Williams has been the top hustler on the team over the past few weeks, and it really showed Tuesday night. Williams finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and his aggression really showed with the fact that he shot 14 free throws. He made nine of them.

Williams also had two blocks and played under control with only one turnover. Now, to be fair, Admiral Schofield was aggressive off the bench as well with seven points and six rebounds. But Williams seems to clearly be asserting himself as the dominant point-forward.

2. Jordan Bone has earned his minutes back.

He got in foul trouble and was inconsistent shooting the ball, but Jordan Bone is clearly the only true point guard the Vols have. And he showed it once again Tuesday night. Bone finished the night with three assists and one turnover off the bench.

He also scored six points. Sure, he was 3-10 shooting the ball, but you’re going to have off-nights. That’s especially true when you are coming back from injury. But Rick Barnes needs to turn the team back over to Bone at point guard. The only reason he didn’t do more Tuesday was because he got in foul trouble.

3. Tennessee basketball has to keep its free throw advantage.

The Vols are one of the best free throw shooting teams in the SEC, but they shot below their average Tuesday night at 69.7 percent. In the process, they missed 10 free throws, going 23-of-33. With so many other issues, they cannot afford to lose their advantage in this area.

If Tennessee gets two of these free throws back to get to its average, we are talking about an entirely different ball game.

4. The Vols are still a team of runs, often due to complacency. 

This was an issue last year as Rick Barnes was still trying to install his new offense. This year, it’s due to youth and inexperience. Tennessee basketball is a team of runs, and when the Vols get on a good run, they relax and go on a bad run. When they get on a bad run, they panic.

This happened Tuesday. The Vols built a 39-26 first-half lead after a 14-0 run. That combined with their road win over the Texas A&M Aggies this past Saturday likely had them thinking they turned the corner. But Arkansas closed the half with an 11-0 run and then opened the second half with an 11-4 run. Tennessee could never recover after that. Intangibles are still a hurdle for this young team.

5. Robert Hubbs III is getting more and more dominant.

Despite all of these stories related to other Vols, it was once again Robert Hubbs III starring for the team in scoring Tuesday night. He had another 20-plus point game and seven rebounds to go with it. And he did it on 9-of-14 shooting the ball with no three-pointers, which was highly efficient.

Rick Barnes and the coaching staff should post him up more because he is getting really good at using his midrange and his inside advantage. If Tennessee can still rely on the former five-star to keep living up to his billing, they still have a great chance to be successful in the conference.

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