Tennessee survives Vanderbilt, coaches react to pulse-pounding game
Posted by Mike Griffith on Tuesday, January 23, 2018
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Rick Barnes finds himself asking the same questions about his Tennessee basketball team’s lack of consistency at the halfway point of the season.
“The word I want to see is ‘consistency,’ ” Barnes said after the No. 22-ranked Vols nearly blew a 20-point lead before holding on for a 67-62 win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.
“What are we going to get?” Barnes said. “We’re talking about a mindset as much as anything.”
Tennessee (14-5, 5-3 SEC) is also taking about a lot of different rotations these days, with starting point guard Jordan Bone limited to just 13 minutes while Lamonte Turner and James Daniel lll took their turn at the point and played 27 minutes each.
Down the stretch, with the game on the line, it was Turner and Daniel in the game and Bone on the bench.
Turner came up big with a decisive 3-pointer that gave the Vols a 5-point lead with a minute left along with some solid defense on Vandy sharpshooter Riley LaChance.
Daniel, however, had a costly turnover during the Commodores’ comeback and missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation.
“I’m just disappointed in the second half, not to take anything away from Vanderbilt,” Barnes said. “They out-played us totally in the second half.”
Barnes said he wasn’t thrilled with his front line, either.
“The most disappointing stat was getting out-rebounded 37-31,” Barnes said. “Grant Williams has three rebounds, and Admiral Schofield has six. Grant has to rebound the ball; I know we’re asking him to do a lot, but he still has to rebound the ball.”
Jordan Bowden led the Vols with 19 points but was only 2 of 7 from the free throw line. Williams had 18 points, including a 12-of-14 shooting performance from the free-throw line.
The consistency question is what persists, however.
Barnes keeps changing things up in search of consistency, but perhaps in doing so, he’s preventing his team from settling into roles that would lead to consistency.
“What I’ve learned is we’re very inconsistent,” Barnes said, asked to assess the first half of the season. “.That’s what we’re talking about, and that’s what I said to them after the game, it’s disappointing.
“You go back to the Purdue game (Nov. 22), we played our most complete game, (and) we haven’t played that complete of a defensive game until Saturday at South Carolina,” Barnes said. “You’d like to think coming out of that game we’d understand we’d play every possession like that.
“First half tonight we were pretty good, second half we didn’t. But I know we’re a team that showed some grit, tonight we found a way.”
The Vols return to action at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Iowa State (11-8).