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Tennessee Basketball pulls off OBVIOUS tank in SEC Tournament with loss to Mississippi State

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Rick Barnes was dead serious in 2022 when, after Tennessee Basketball won the SEC Tournament, he said teams should stay home if conference tournaments don’t mean anything. That year, UT entered the tourney projected as a 3-seed and then got a 3-seed despite winning the event.

Two years later, Barnes and the Vols got their revenge. After winning the SEC regular season championship, the Vols suffered a blowout 73-56 loss Friday to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It was one of the worst displays of basketball by this team in years.

In fact, the only time Tennessee Basketball looked even close to this bad was in January, when it last played MSU. The Vols lost that game 77-72. However, they were on the road, and Dalton Knecht was still coming back from an injury.

This time, the Vols were playing an effective home game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., and MSU had just won the day before. They also had a potential No. 1 seed to play for, as they were fighting with the North Carolina Tar Heels and Arizona Wildcats for that final spot. It didn’t matter.

From the jump, the Vols made one thing clear. They weren’t going to fight for buckets in the paint, and they weren’t going to try to create shots. Just jack up threes if nothing is there, and if they go in, great. If they don’t, the Vols get a rest for the NCAA Tournament.

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Think I’m lying? Rocky Top shot 8-of-33 from beyond the arc. They only took 61 shots in the game as a whole. That wasn’t out of desperation for a comeback either. In the first half alone, they took 16 threes. This is a team that averages just over 27 a game.

Now, the tank wasn’t obvious. It’s true that they were off shooting the ball, and they missed wide open looks, most notably Santiago Vescovi. But MSU switched to a 1-3-1 at times and other times played man. Somehow, though, Jonas Aidoo only took six shots, and Tobe Awaka only added one.

In fact, they only took 18 shots in the paint, and many of those were from outside the circle. The message was obvious. Barnes clearly believes the conference tournaments do nothing for the selection committee unless a team not in the tourney wins theirs, and he just showed up the whole sport.

More proof? The only time they pressed trying to get back in it was when Dalton Knecht, who had 14 points and was 2-of-9 from three, was on the bench. Zakai Zeigler did go off for 20 points, but he took 12 threes and wasn’t as aggressive trying to slash as usual.

All year, we have criticized Barnes for his players logging too many minutes. It’s very obvious that Tennessee Basketball took advantage of beating three ranked teams in three days. They didn’t go all out last week against the Kentucky Wildcats, and there wasn’t much travel needed for the SEC Tourney, and they didn’t try to win that. Mission accomplished.

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