What happens when Tennessee goes on the road (where they are winless this season) to play a pressing team without their only true point guard? Exactly what you'd expect. They turn the ball over, and they lose. In the absence of Trae Golden, the Vols fell 73-60 to Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
It didn't start too badly for Tennessee. They struggled with turnovers and allowed fast break points, but they made up for it with good defense and led 18-17 on a Kenny Hall basket at the 7:45 mark of the first half. And then the turnovers game. The next ten Tennessee possessions ended as follows:
Hall turnover. Derek Reese turnover. Jordan McRae missed shot. Jarnell Stokes hits two FTs. Armani Moore missed shot. Moore turnover. Stokes turnover. Stokes missed shot. Stokes turnover. Skylar McBee missed shot.
That was the game. When Richardson made another shot at 2:04, it was to cut into a 31-20 Arkansas lead. The Vols would finish the half with 13 turnovers, 8 from their three true posts, and a 35-25 deficit. While the Hogs had only shot 42% from the floor, they took 12 more shots than Tennessee, and five Vols had more turnovers than baskets. Only Josh Richardson, who scored the last five points of the half on his way to 9 points and 0 turnovers, was keeping Tennessee in the game.
Tennessee made their problems worse with turnovers on their first four possessions in the second half. At one point, the Vols had 17 turnovers to just two assists, and Arkansas had a 16-point lead. The Vols, as they've done most of the season, scrapped to try to get back in the game, but the Hogs always had an answer, many of them coming from B.J. Young, who had a fantastic game, finishing with 25 points on 9/15 shooting.
Tennessee cut the lead to nine, and then Brandon Lopez threw the ball away and Arkansas got a dunk in transition. Moments later, Arkansas got a three-point play when they missed a free throw, got the rebound and dunked over Stokes.
Tennessee cut the lead to eight, but an Arkansas basket and a Young three extended it back to 13.
Tennessee cut it to nine, but then everyone stepped away from Rashad Madden, a 26% shooter, who promptly hit a wide open three.
And when Tennessee cut the lead to seven inside two minutes, it was Young who ran the shot clock down before draining a 15-foot jumper to push it back to nine.
Stokes led the team with 18 points on 6/7 shooting and 10 rebounds, but 4 turnovers. Contending with Jarnell for the J.P. Prince Stat-Sheet Stuffer Award was Kenny Hall, who scored 14 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, drew two charges, and committed 3 turnovers.
Outside, only Richardson brought anything, and even he was only effective in the first half, going 0/3 in the second frame. McRae, Moore, and McBee combined to go 4/21 from the field, 2/5 from the line, and 1/8 from beyond the arc.
The Vols, now 11-9 overall and 3-5 in SEC play, are back in action Wednesday night against Georgia (10-11, 4-4) in Knoxville. We'll be here. Go Vols.