Tennessee Basketball Falls to South Carolina: 5 Takeaways from Vols’ Loss
Tennessee basketball lost to South Carolina at home Wednesday night 70-60. Here are five takeaways from the UT Volunteers’ loss.
For the third straight game, Tennessee basketball was on the wrong end of an SEC match-up. Rick Barnes’s Vols suffered a 10-point loss at home to the South Carolina Gamecocks to fall to 1-3 in the SEC and 8-8 overall.
South Carolina took an 8-6 lead just after the 12-minute mark in the first half and never looked back. They turned that lead into a 27-12 lead at one point in the first half before the Vols cut it to 27-21 at halftime.
However, every time they made a run, the Gamecocks responded. Tennessee was never able to make the game closer than six points.
The loss improves South Carolina’s record to 13-3 and 3-0 in the SEC. At the same time, it brings Tennessee’s record against Top 100 RPI teams to an abysmal 0-8 with the recent collapse of the Texas A&M Aggies knocking them out of the Top 100.
Here are five takeaways from Tennessee basketball’s home loss to the Gamecocks.
1. Detrick Mostella was clearly a huge loss.
Coming off the bench, Detrick Mostella had been an extremely valuable spark. Averaging over 10 points a game, he was a crucial part of the Vols’ depth. That scoring depth could have helped them close the gap in this game in the second half.
But on the heels of his dismissal, Tennessee basketball was lost a bit off the bench. They got a hot night from Lamonte Turner, but Kwe Parker and Shembari Phillips were no help off the bench in the backcourt. With them having off-nights, they definitely weren’t prepared to not have Mostella. His absence also caused another major issue.
2. Three-point shooting is in a funk.
Outside of Mostella, this has been a case for the Vols since the Arkansas game. And with him gone, they went 1-of-11 from beyond the arc on Wednesday. With an offense based on tempo and efficient guard play, the three-point shots have got to fall if the Vols are going to make any impact.
They haven’t been falling recently, and the bottom fell out on Wednesday. It’s a huge issue that cost them. But to be fair, they also didn’t get many great looks due to our next takeaway.
3. Point guard play was abysmal.
Back in December we operated under the assumption that Tennessee basketball’s offense would look a lot better when Jordan Bone returned. On Wednesday, however, he had one assist and five turnovers as he got back into the starting lineup.
Sure, he had three steals. He also had 7 points, but it was on 3-of-10 shooting. Jordan Bowden was no help running the point with no assists, three turnovers, and four fouls, and despite 12 points, Turner had three turnovers off the bench. That has to improve dramatically if the Vols are going to do anything of substance this year.
4. Inside play is improving.
It’s sad because the inside game was decent on the one night that guard play all-around was absolutely terrible. Grant Williams came away with 15 points thanks to getting to the free throw line 12 times and hitting nine of them. His aggression also brought three blocks and six rebounds.
Kyle Alexander, Lew Evans, and Admiral Schofield also all earned hustle points on the night and were decent when they needed to score. If Williams and Schofield both didn’t get in foul trouble, this may have been a different game. And another player is getting better on the inside.
5. Robert Hubbs III is getting better at hustle points.
His development all the way around has been a very good story for Tennessee basketball this year. But for the most part, that focus was only on his scoring. Now, Robert Hubbs III is doing other little things.
On an off-shooting night, he showed more hustle by still scoring in the paint and getting to 12 points. He also had seven rebounds and a blocked shot. The guy is really becoming a star, and if he can just drag along the other young players with him, Tennessee could finally take that next step.
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