Tennessee Basketball Loses at Florida: 5 Takeaways from Vols 83-70 Loss

Tennessee basketball fell to the No. 24 ranked Florida Gators 83-70 on the road. Here are five takeaways from the UT Volunteers’ loss to UF.

Tennessee basketball fell to 8-7 on the year after losing to the No. 24 ranked Florida Gators in Gainesville Saturday night 83-70

Rick Barnes’s team stayed in the game for 35 minutes, but they came apart in the final minutes of the game to lose by double-digits on the road.

The Vols had a 33-32 lead at halftime and trailed by three with five minutes to go. But they never got closer after that.

With the loss, Tennessee basketball falls not only to 8-7 but also to 1-2 in the SEC. Mike White’s Gators, meanwhile, improved to 12-3 overall and 3-0 in the SEC.

Here are five takeaways from the Vols’ loss to the Gators.

1. Interior defense has to get better. 

Grant Williams earns respect for being a hustle player, but his hustle Saturday night turned into fouls. The freshman point forward fouled out with no blocks and only six points. Admiral Schofield, meanwhile, fouled out off the bench despite 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile Kyle Alexander and Lew Evans got abused under the basket. So the lack of size that the big men faced was a big issue. However, there was one saving grace.

2. High post scoring is an advantage. 

Although Admiral Schofield fouled out and struggled defensively, his 10 rebounds were impressive. And he had 18 points on 6-9 shooting. With the Vols massively undersized against the Gators, stretching the floor was a big plus.

It also made up for Grant Williams’s off-night, which has to be expected given his youth. Maybe Schofield is finally coming around and returning to his old self. However, while the point-forwards are an advantage for Tennessee basketball, another part of the Vols is a disadvantage.

3. Robert Hubbs III needs to get better outside.

Up until this game, Robert Hubbs III was earning his stripes as a five-star senior because he used his skills and athleticism to score inside a lot. However, in this game, he got exposed because of Florida’s bigs.

As Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams stretched the floor, Hubbs was unable to score underneath the basket. So he went 4-11 from the field. The problem was he went 0-2 from beyond the arc. To be the complete player the Vols need him to be, he needs to stretch the floor better.

4. Hustle is clearly not an issue.

This is an odd one to bring up, but it deserves respect. Despite being undersized, the Vols had as many rebounds as the Gators. Both had 31. Florida won because of its red-hot three-point shooting, going 9-20.

However, the Vols heavily contested all but maybe one of those shots. So this game was more about Florida’s great offense than Tennessee’s defense. Considering that, we have to acknowledge their hustle in playing hard under the basket. It’s also why two of their forwards fouled out. But the hustle does have bring some issues for a young team beyond just the foul-outs.

5. Tennessee’s aggression can be too much.

Rick Barnes is all about tempo and controlled chaos. That’s fine if the Vols play proper defense and still move the ball well on offense. That didn’t happen on Saturday, and it’s why they lost.

In addition to Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield fouling out with that defense, they also only forced 11 turnovers while committing 19 turnovers themselves. Meanwhile, they only had 10 assists. That can’t happen in Barnes’s style of play for this team. So if the Vols are going to make a run in the SEC, this young team has to correct that quickly.

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