Tennessee Volunteers vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs: which is falling faster?

It's little wonder that when the Tennessee Volunteers lost 83-74 to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Old Spice Classic earlier this season Tennessee fans barely noticed. After all, it was November 30, 2008, and it was not only the end of the football season but we were drawing the curtain on the Fulmer Era and eagerly anticipating the new one. So what happened? Um, the 'Zags beat us soundly. Steven Gray had 19 points, Matt Bouldin had 17, and Josh Heytvelt had 15. They led 35-31 at halftime and simply widened the margin in the second period. Yeah, so we got to within six points on Cam Tatum's three-pointer with 90 seconds left, but we missed several shots on our next possession, and Gonzaga once again pulled away. The Vols lost despite outrebounding the Bulldogs 50-26, partly due to committing 21 turnovers.

A quick look at the numbers below make it seem as if Gonzaga is only better now. A look at their schedule, though, indicates that they may be having issues. Since beating the Vols at the end of November, the Bulldogs have won three and lost four, including their last three against Connecticut, Portland State, and Utah. Their other loss was to Arizona.

So what's up with the 'Zags? According to SB Nation Gonzaga blog The Slipper Still Fits, it's a question of heart and composure. Matt Bouldin is merely taking up space. The team may be too experienced for its own good. They don't rebound, and they don't shoot well from behind the arc. They get behind early. As a result, they've fallen from fourth to 37th in the rankings.

A lot of that sounds familiar to Vol fans, though, doesn't it? We can't hit threes, either, and it certainly seems that we dig ourselves early graves with exceptionally skill. Add to that a review of the stats below, and I'm far from thinking that the Vols have much of a chance to avenge the earlier loss to the 'Zags. The Bulldogs have four different players ranked in the top 100 of the key stat categories and have an edge in the numbers in most categories as a team.

On the other hand, you can't say that the Volunteers don't rebound or that they are too experienced. We have hope that it's just a matter of time before the young players on this team assimilate themselves and the proverbial light goes on. If the Gonzaga Bulldogs are indeed in a free fall, and if the Vols are still finding themselves, then perhaps it is a question of which team is falling faster or which can grab the ledge and find a foothold sooner.

KEY STATS COMPARISON
Tennessee logo
Gonzaga Logo
Category
Rank
Actual
Rank
Actual
Scoring Offense
7
84.6
61
76.7
Scoring Defense
288
73.8
67
62.5
Scoring Margin
59
10.8
31
14.2
Field-Goal Percentage
74
46.5
61
46.8
Field-Goal Percentage Defense
192
43.3
13
37.3
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game
112
6.9
103
7.0
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage
222
32.0
124
35.3
Three Pt FG Defense
171
0.339
131
0.33
Free-Throw Percentage
129
69.8
125
70.0
Rebound Margin
14
8.6
125
2.4
Assists Per Game
11
18.0
49
15.9
Assist Turnover Ratio
50
1.18
16
1.35
Blocked Shots Per Game
87
4.1
21
5.7
Steals Per Game
124
7.4
100
7.8
Turnovers Per Game
226
15.3
19
11.8
Turnover Margin
169
0.3
18
4.8
Personal Fouls Per Game
294
20.9
69
17.0
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH Tennessee logo
Gonzaga Logo
Category Player Rank Actual Player Rank Actual
Points PG            
FG%       Josh Heytvelt
83
52.4
3-Point FG PG        
3-Point FG%        
FT %        
Rebounds PG Wayne Chism
63
8.5
 
Assists PG  
Jeremy Pargo
7
6.9
Blocks PG  
Austin Daye
42
2.2
Steals PG  
Matt Bouldin
96
1.9
Assist-TO
Ratio
Bobby Maze
56
2.21
Jeremy Pargo
21
2.68
X
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