It was a disappointing evening for Tennessee following the epic comeback win over Kentucky on Tuesday, but the numbers tell an unsurprising story. After the Wildcats, Arkansas was the best offensive team in the league coming into today's games, and they found much more success against Tennessee's defense.
The Hogs jumped out to a 12-2 lead and never looked back. Tennessee briefly cut it back to seven at 14-7 with 12:36 to play, but the Hogs ran off a 9-0 run from there and the Vols never got it back to single digits, getting no closer than 10 in the first half and 12 in the second.
Arkansas was hot from the field shooting 52.6% from the floor and 40.9% from the arc. Moses Kingsley was also a force in the paint; Kyle Alexander again played heavy minutes and again showed some nice flashes, but the Vols didn't swarm the post to help and Kingsley went 8 of 11 from the floor for 17 points.
Meanwhile Tennessee wasn't their usual selves at the free throw line and could hardly get there in the first half, finishing 11 of 17 (64.7%) at the line. Add in a tougher night for Kevin Punter at 7 of 18 from the floor with many of his 24 points coming in garbage time, and you get this. Arkansas took full advantage of Tennessee's defensive struggles, the Vols struggled to get Punter going and couldn't get to the line, and it was a long night in Faytteville.
The chance to regain momentum comes in what is on paper the easiest week of the season: 3-7 Auburn comes to Knoxville Tuesday night without Kareem Canty, then the Vols go to 1-9 Missouri next Saturday. If Tennessee wants to think about the NIT, it needs to win both of those games.
The Vols will get a second shot at Arkansas in three weeks, but will need to be not just hotter but much better defensively to get a different result.