Tennessee let Lipscomb hang around late into the second half on a groggy Saturday afternoon, but the Vols pulled a sloppy one out in the end, 81-71, and moved to 7-1 on the season.
Tennessee came in to the game shooting nearly 43 percent from the 3-point line this season, and came out right on pace after junior forward Admiral Schofield knocked down two triples in the first three minutes of the game. The team finished 6 for 15 in the first half, right under the season average for 3-pointers.
Schofield and the Vols have struggled to put their foot on inferior opponents neck in late-game situations, and this game proved no different. The Vols shot 1 for 7 from three in the second half, and Barnes believed they settled for a lot of shots late.
“We didn’t make the shots we need to make. Fifteen turnovers, we don’t need that. Again, we had 25 baskets on 22 assists.” Barnes said. “I just felt early we settled for three-pointers … That’s when we’re not a smart team yet.”
The Vols go where Grant Williams takes them
In a game where Tennessee was struggling both offensively and defensively, Grant Williams proved he is still the leader of this 2017-18 team. While Admiral Schofield let emotions get the best of him, Williams proved the Vols could lean on him late.
— Chierstin Susel (@ChierstinSusel) December 9, 2017
“All of the guys can really step up — there’s not one guy that matters more than anybody … I didn’t play the last two minutes (against Georgia Tech),” Williams said. “I know these guys can do it without me. We’re just trying to focus on getting the win, doesn’t matter who does it.”
Williams was on pace for a double-double at halftime, tallying five points and four rebounds at the halfway mark. As he has done in many games this season, Williams stepped on the gas pedal late in the game — but he seemed to be the only Vol to do so.
The sophomore finished several massive dunks en route to a huge night, finishing with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, and he did it all for Tennessee while his teammates struggled.
Defense leaves a lot to be desired
Tennessee has been blowing out inferior opponents as of late, but seems to let off the gas pedal late in those games. True to form, the Vols let Lipscomb hang around far into the second half.
Up only 10 points with 5:29 remaining in the game, Tennessee had allowed 11 second-chance points to the Bison. An under-sized Tennessee squad has fared well up to this point in the season on the glass, but the Vols were asleep in this one.
Tennessee allowed 8 offensive rebounds in the first 16 minutes of the game, and it came back to bite them after Lipscomb cut the Vols’ lead to seven with 3:18 remaining.
Tennessee still managed to pull out a double-digit win, but the Vols allowed four of Lipscomb’s player to score in double digits. When it is all said and done, the Vols survived a trap game and now move on, but next week will tell a lot about this team.
Transfer guards ready for the big stageTRANSFER GUARDS READY FOR THE BIG STAGE
It felt like Jeff Jarnigan, the voice of the Vols, was on repeat with the phrase “Darrington to Daniels III for three” in Thompson-Boling arena.
Chris Darrington and James Daniels III, Tennessee’s two highly-sought after transfer guards (from Vincennes and Howard University, respectively) had high expectations coming in to the season. So far, Daniel III has been pretty modest with his assist numbers, but has worked on consistency. Darrington and Daniel III combined for 23 points on the night.
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) December 9, 2017
For Darrington, his play has been rather quiet thus far. Barnes had both of them on the floor quite a bit in the first half against Lipscomb, and it looked like the two had been playing together for years.
Darrington hit Daniel III on back-to-back possessions for 3-pointers to get momentum rolling in the first half, and the two had a rhythm going until halftime.
They dished and slashed all night long for Tennessee, and it proved how much depth the Vols have both at guard and across the roster.
The Vols face No. 11 North Carolina on December 17 at 3 p.m. after an eight-day layoff.