Three takeaways: Tennessee resists Arkansas runs, beats Razorbacks
Nate Oats addresses ‘leadership vacuum’ as LSU approaches
Tennessee used a scorching shooting start to open a 20-point lead over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon. The Vols almost ruined everything with a second-half collapse before surviving to claim a 78-74 win.
Here are three takeaways.
Tennessee comes out blazing from the perimeter
Tennessee’s offense has often looked completely different at Thompson-Boling Arena than it has out of friendly bounds this season. That run continued Saturday when Tennessee scored 78 points with phenomenal perimeter shooting.
The Vols came out of the gates shooting, making seven of their first eight three-pointers while scoring 30 points in under 11 minutes.
Tennessee stayed scorching from the perimeter for the entire first half, hitting nine of 12 triples in the first half. Ironically, Tennessee shot a higher percentage from the three-point line (75%) than from the free throw line (72%) and layups (29%) in the first half.
The Vols were averaging just 6.6 three-pointers per game a season ago. It shows how insane Tennessee’s three-point success in the first half was.
After scoring 48 points in their loss to Arkansas two weeks ago, the Vols had 50 points in the first half.
Kennedy Chandler had four first-half attempts from deep, Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi had two and Josiah-Jordan James had one.
Arkansas make a pair of runs, box steal to finish
They say all good teams make runs in games where they’re trailing and it didn’t take long for Arkansas to do it in the second half.
The Razorbacks opened the second half on a 14-2 streak, cutting Tennessee’s lead to 11 points with over 14 minutes left in the game. Arkansas’ run was created by solid defense and elite offensive rebounding.
Coming out of the locker room, Arkansas decided to take a beating from the big men of Tennessee. The Razorbacks doubled Tennessee guards off the ball screens and while the Vols backcourt made good plays and got the ball wide open, UT didn’t capitalize.
The Vols defense didn’t seriously sag at the other end of the field, but the Razorbacks started to take control of the offensive glass. In the first three minutes of the second half, Arkansas grabbed three offensive rebounds and killed Tennessee with second-chance points.
The Razorbacks’ physique also led Tennessee to commit quick fouls. Arkansas was in the bonus at the end of the run while Arkansas was only called for a single foul during the stretch.
As was the case for much of the game, Tennessee pulled themselves out of the cold spell. Josiah-Jordan James landed a midrange jumper, grabbed a defensive backboard on the other end before Kennedy Chandler landed his fifth triple of the game.
One possession later, James hit a triple to push the Vols’ lead to 16 points.
The Razorbacks kept coming, however, using an 8-0 run to get back in the game and eventually cut Tennessee’s lead to three points with 15 seconds left. The cause of the stroke was exactly the same as the first. The Vols had a stagnant offense against Arkansas’ gimmick defense and the Razorbacks dominated the offensive glass, drilling straight threes on offensive rebounds.
Tennessee got away with it, but for the second straight Saturday, the Vols failed to clear a quality opponent they had a big lead over.
Tennessee stays perfect at Thompson-Boling Arena
In comparison to their perspective sports, the Thompson-Boling Arena is larger than the Neyland Stadium.
Few think TBA is a basketball palace the way they think Neyland Stadium is a football cathedral, but the results are undeniable.
For the second time in four seasons, Tennessee has posted a perfect record in its friendly arena this season. The Vols’ 16-0 home record is one of the main reasons for their successful season and they will be on a 16-game winning streak at home at the start of the 2022-23 season.
After the Auburn game last week, it was Santiago Vescovi who implored the Tennessee fans to bring the same energy again next week against Arkansas. John Fulkerson closed out his senior day message asking fans to feed the floor from start to finish,
They did just that, even when Tennessee started to crumble in the second half.
After the game, Rick Barnes took the microphone, something he hasn’t done in my four years in Knoxville.
“Thank you for being the best fans in all of college basketball,” Barnes said.
The seventh-year head coach then led a packed Thompson-Boling Arena in a ‘great to be a Tennessee Vol chant’
It’s certainly great to be a Tennessee Vol at Thompson-Boling Arena this season.