- Advertisement -

Tennessee basketball win vs. Arkansas reveals its best matchups

- Advertisement -

With one week left in the season, we may finally be figuring out this Tennessee basketball team. There are two ways in which the Vols can win a game come March Madness.

One is everybody just having a red-hot game shooting the ball. That’s not the formula for Rick Barnes’ team here, but it has proven it can happen at different times this year.

The other, though, is playing athletic teams that like to run tempo. Although defense doesn’t win championships, Tennessee basketball has a style that can keep fast-paced teams from winning it.

UT just beat the Arkansas Razorbacks 75-57 in their final home game of the year less than two weeks after they knocked off the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 68-59. Those were the two favorites in the SEC going into the year, and both play up-tempo.

Somehow, though, the Vols beat them each pretty handily. At the same time, they shot below 30 percent from three and below 70 percent from the free throw line in both of those games.

- Advertisement -

What led to both wins was their suffocating defense forcing lots of turnovers against teams that like controlled chaos. Rocky Top had 11 steals in each of these games.

It’s even more impressive in this one when you consider the Vols’ best transition defender, Zakai Zeigler, left the game three minutes in due to an injury. That looks like it could be a season-ending injury, sadly.

After securing three steals against Alabama, Jahmai Mashack came away with four against Arkansas. Josiah-Jordan James, continuing to prove why he was missed, came away with three steals off the bench.

Santiago Vescovi added two, and he was the only reliable three-point shooter, going 3-of-7 from outside with 14 points. James did have 11 off the bench, to be fair.

Given the fact that UT shot 4-of-16 from three while the Hogs were 8-of-22, this shouldn’t have been such a blowout. Sure, the Vols outrebounded them, but it was only 35-32, and Arkansas had four blocks to UT’s two.

Simply put, nothing outside of the transition defense breaking up Arkansas’s offense would lead to the Vols winning this game. That’s exactly what transpired.

This style forced Arkansas to slow it down, and they couldn’t really score out of their half-court sets. Tennessee basketball, meanwhile, got 16 points from Olivier Nkamhoua down low.

Is this a formula for going far in March? No. The Vols still are in danger of getting blown out if they run into a red-hot shooting team. Their offense is just too much of a problem on its own.

However, it does prove UT has matchup advantages against certain types of teams. They have now beaten Bruce Pearl, Nate Oats and Eric Musselman, the three most famous tempo coaches in the league.

- Advertisement -

Latest YouTube Videos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Podcast

- Advertisement -

More Podcasts

- Advertisement -