Wednesday night at Memorial was... stressful. New No. 1 Tennessee denied history repeating itself, finding a way to come back and take down the Vanderbilt Commodores in overtime.
Grant Williams: The one man wrecking crew
Eight points was all Grant had at halftime. 35 second half points later, Tennessee came out victorious — and they needed every last point out of him tonight. It was like turning back the page to last season. The offense ran solely through Williams, who had it all working tonight.
Williams worked the low post, spinning, slamming, hitting contested fade-away jumpers — but he did his most impressive work at the charity stripe. Williams went 23-23 from the line, which kept Tennessee breathing on a night where not a whole lot went right.
.@GrWill2's 23-of-23 performance at the free throw line is the most free throws made without a miss in the NCAA in 60 years (second-most all-time). Oklahoma State's Arlen Clark was 24-of-24 on March 7, 1959— Craig Pinkerton (@SEC_Craig) January 24, 2019
Grant finished with 41 points, adding eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists.
Admiral Schofield had perhaps his worst showing of the year, only adding six points in 30 minutes of play. Jordan Bone started hot, but faded late. Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden were spotty at best, scoring eight and nine points respectively.
It was a performance for the ages for Grant. Anything less would have resulted in a loss.
Down six with under two minutes to play, this one felt done. Vanderbilt was running clock and hitting contested shots to beat the shot clock, seemingly hammering one more nail into the Vols’ coffin each possession.
By the end of regulation, Vanderbilt was still shooting 60 percent from three point range, which was the driving force behind their upset bid. It was a sight that has become just a little bit too familiar for Tennessee fans over the last couple of weeks. First it was Florida raining deep shots in Gainesville, then it was John Petty lighting up Thompson-Boling with 30 points of his own.
Tonight Vanderbilt continued that trend, capitalizing on open looks from the corner following passes from inside the paint from Saben Lee and Simisola Shittu. Tennessee got beat up inside late in the second half too as Vanderbilt crept back into the picture. Barnes has harped on his team not playing up to snuff defensively lately — tonight gave him more ammo to come at them with in meetings and practice.
Back to back clunkers for Admiral
Tennessee was supposed to be a two man show this year with Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams returning, but as it turns out, they’ve been much more than that. The Vols have plenty of depth and experience and we saw how dangerous they could be with everything clicking to start SEC play.
However, the last two games have been duds for Schofield, who is struggling to find his stroke suddenly. Admiral was 4-17 against Alabama and finished tonight just 2-9 from the field. More alarmingly, Schofield was 0-6 from three point range, putting plenty of pressure on Grant Williams and Jordan Bone to get something done offensively.
Schofield had several open looks tonight, they just weren’t falling. The same could be said about the Alabama game. I’m not ready to call two games a slump, but it’s no mystery why Tennessee’s last two games have come down to the wire.