Poise and communication were key to Tennessee playing one of its most impressive games of the season, according to Coach Rick Barnes.
The Vols beat Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym in Nashville on Saturday night, 87-75, in a game sophomore Admiral Schofield said Friday could turn the season around.
Barnes told his players exactly what they’d need to do to pull the upset (as a 4.5-point underdog) on the Commodores (8-9, 2-3 SEC ), and Tennessee (9-8, 2-3) executed.
“I thought our poise was great, and that was the most poised we’ve been all year,” Barnes said after the game. “In the first half we had an idea what we wanted to do against their zone.”
Specifically, shoot the 3-pointer, as the Vols were 8-of-15 beyond the arc after a woeful 1-of-11 shooting performance in Wednesday night’s home loss to South Carolina.
Freshman point guard Jordan Bone was the story of the night, scoring a career-high 23 points and dishing out five assists while accounting for just one turnover.
Point guard play was pivotal on a night where Tennessee committed just six turnovers, down from the 22 the Vols had in their loss to the Gamecocks.
“Jordan Bone was terrific,” Barnes said. “I’ve been really hard on him, but I told the guys the other day, we practice harder than we play, and the reason is I’m holding you guys accountable.
“I said ‘who’s gonna be the voice,’ and tonight they did a terrific job, they were holding each other accountable.”
Vanderbilt entered the night leading the SEC in 3-pointers made per game in league play (12), but Tennessee held the Commodores to just six made treys and a season-low 14 attempts from beyond the arc.
Barnes may have surprised Vanderbilt by having his players switch players on the perimeter, something the team does not typically do.
“The switching did take away the 3-pointer, and they were driving the ball,” Barnes said of his first-half strategy. “We just didn’t want them to get comfortable behind the arc.”
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 15, 2017