This time around, while it wasn't easy, the Vols handled business and were able to get a decent win after the loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.
The game started off with a combined four points in the first 3:15 - yes, it was as dreadful as it sounds - before the offenses began to click. Vanderbilt drained three straight three-pointers and Grant Williams hit shot after shot to help keep pace as the Commodores led, 13-10 with 13:25 left in the first period.
A four point play from Lamonte Turner gave the lead back to the Vols. The 16-13 lead was the first since the team lead 4-2 in the early stages of the game. He then hit another three a few possessions later to put the Vols on a 9-0 and push the lead to 19-13.
The run climbed to 11-0 before a three-pointer from Matthew Moyer ended Vanderbilt’s misery. It was his first made shot in five games, adding more insult to injury when it comes to opponents’ ability to hit the deep shot.
Jordan Bone answered right back with a jumper of his own and Tennessee led, 23-16, but both teams fell into another offensive slump, scoring a combined six points over the next four minutes.
Poor offense be damned, the Vols were still able to build a 31-22 lead with 2:42 to go in the first period. A litany of missed easy shots kept the lead from entering double digits.
Tennessee stretched its lead to 36-22, but Vandy closed the half on a 5-0 run to close the gap 36-27 going into halftime.
The Commodores outshot the Vols 45.5 percent to 43.8 percent and despite starting 3 of 5 from three-point range, Vanderbilt finished the first half just 5 of 12.
The Vols didn’t fare much better, hitting just 4 of 11, but they were able to hit 80 percent of their free throws.
If Tennessee could just limit the turnovers and start making the easy shots, then there should be no issue in getting a win. It’d be interesting to see how the first five minutes of the second half would develop, especially considering what happened against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Vanderbilt came out and knocked down a three right off the bat. Both teams struggled offensively as the game progressed. It wasn't just a matter of good defense, either. Sloppy offense plagued each squad and there looked to be no way out for both teams.
It was a 46-38 lead with 7:38 left in the game, could Vanderbilt find some way to muster up the energy to make a comeback?
The Commodores couldn't find it, but the Vols did. A 9-0 run keyed by good ball movement helped build a 51-38 lead and things were beginning to look pretty dire for Vanderbilt.
Despite the momentum going against them, it wasn’t enough to keep Vanderbilt down for too long. A flagrant one on Schofield made things worse as it helped the Dores cut the 13-point lead down to seven. It was a 51-44 game with just a bit over four minutes to go.
But Tennessee was able to hold Vanderbilt off. A key moment came when Grant Williams drove to the basket and missed the layup, but was able to collect the offensive board and help burn another forty seconds off the clock.
A foul from Wetzel sealed the deal as Bowden made both free throws and the Vols would go on to win 58-46. It was an extremely inefficient night for both teams on offense. Tennessee finished just 41.1 percent from the field and Vanderbilt dropped all the way 32.4 percent on the night.
The Vols will travel to LSU on Saturday to play the Tigers for first place in the SEC. Tip-off is scheduled for 12PM EST.