Well, if you were worried about overconfidence, you can relax.
Vanderbilt dominated this game from tip to buzzer, leading by as many as 27 and taking home the victory by 18. Jeffery Taylor was sensational with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals. John Jenkins added 16, and while the Commodores shot just 42.6% from the floor - consistent with what the Vols have been giving up in SEC play - they shot 44.4% from the arc, knocking down eight threes.
On the other end of the floor, the offense we saw on our last road trip in Athens reappeared, and we got a taste of what will happen when we do so against a good team. The Vols shot just 35.3%, made only one three, and turned it over a stunning 25 times. It was the most the Vols have turned it over since the second game of last season against Belmont (27).
And there was clear separation tonight: Jeronne Maymon, Jarnell Stokes, and a special guest appearance by Yemi Makanjuola (which went really well until he committed a dirty foul on John Jenkins and was rightfully ejected; we have to be better than that) produced fairly well for the Vols. They were Tennessee's top three scorers, 28 of UT's 47 points on 11 of 19 (57.8%) shooting and grabbed a combined 24 rebounds. Stokes was credited with 7 turnovers to go with his 10 rebounds - first hostile environment for our true freshmen, and it was nice to see him making friends with the Memorial crowd. He'll get better.
But the rest of the Vols were absolutely atrocious on the offensive end: 7 of 32 outside that post trio, 21.8%. The Vols were 1 for 10 from the arc.
We can score in the paint on anybody. And the defense had some lapses, but was still okay given the opponent and the environment. But we cannot turn the ball over 20+ times, and we can't have all of our backcourt players fail to contribute. We don't have to be great on offense, but as was the case in Athens, we can't be this...and when you're this against a good team like Vanderbilt, you get it handed to you. This game was never close - the Vols could never get it going offensively, and Vandy was plenty good in transition and from the arc as usual.
So, we burn the film on this one along with any NCAA Tournament talk. Tennessee has to finish 8-8 in the SEC to qualify for the NIT. That number is still out there, but Tennessee can't afford to lose games they shouldn't lose. That means the Vols must bounce back and must win at home against Auburn on Saturday.