It's Tourney Time.
Photo credit: LittleDan77
Commence the 15 minutes of post-game stream of consciousness.
We've been saying that the Vols would be in trouble if both Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith had off nights at the same time and that we were vulnerable whenever only one of the two were doing well. But you know what? Chris had a good game, getting 25 points on 7-12 shooting, 5-9 from the arc, and 6-8 from the stripe. JaJuan also had a good game: 18 points on 5-8, 3-6, and 5-5.
And that's not all. Tyler Smith was almost perfect, getting 24 points and only missing three shots all afternoon. Wayne Chism also did fine with 11 points, and Ramar Smith improved a bit, hitting some key shots while penetrating and tallying seven total points.
On offense. On offense.
On offense. On offense. On offense. We also hit nearly 70% of our free throws, another thing we thought might do us in.
But we learned a lesson today, one that we really needed to learn because it is so shocking that we never would have considered it otherwise.
We can lose with our defense.
Arkansas hit 55% from the field and 44% from three-point land. For most of the second half, they simply fed the ball to the post and made a move toward the basket. They then either made the shot or got fouled. Or both.
What happened to our defense? Isn't that Bruce Pearl's calling card? Isn't JaJuan Smith "the Pest?" Don't we win games by forcing turnovers and getting steals, which leads to bushels of assists and easy points?
Yes, yes, and yes. But only if we make it an issue. We've been taking it for granted, and we may never have realized that that inherent advantage can die of neglect, of over-attention to shoring up our weaknesses.
Tomorrow, it's Tourney Time in Tennessee, and we'd do well to get back to doing what we do best. Even if it means we have to live with some of our weaknesses.
[/end stream of consciousness]
See ya tomorrow for Selection Sunday.