Even though they blew a 25-point first half lead, Tennessee managed to hang on, beat Iowa 83-77 and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Here’s what stood out to me.
Two Halves Make a Hole
Tennessee played one of their best halves of basketball during the first 20 minutes against Iowa, but inexplicably followed it with one of their worst 20-minute stretches of the season.
Iowa started on a 14-4 run and altogether outscored Tennessee 43-22 in the second half.
Tennessee’s first 10 possessions of the second half included four points, six turnovers and seven missed shots.
The Vols have now been outscored in the second half in four of their last six games with the total points at 276 (opponents) to 232 (Tennessee).
Admiral Schofield scored just two of his 19 points in the second half and didn’t play in the overtime period. Sure, Schofield had four fouls, but he also took a deep 3 with time left on the shot clock near the end of regulation. That gave Iowa the ball with more time left on the game clock than they would have had if Schofield had been patient. They proceeded to hit two free throws and send the game to overtime.
Apparently, Schofield told Barnes to keep him out of the game because Kyle Alexander was the better defensive matchup. I’m not calling Schofield a liar, but I don’t totally buy that explanation.
Where There’s a Williams, There’s a Way
Grant Williams … rebounded … from a less-than-spectacular performance against Colgate with a gutsy performance against Iowa. I really don’t like using the word “gutsy,” but it was a gutsy performance. So, yeah.
He tied for the team-lead in scoring with 19 points, but he also added seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.
He scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half and overtime and had arguably the two most important plays of the game with a two-handed block on Iowa’s Tyler Cook with under two minutes left and a strip-steal in overtime.
Four Vols in Double Digits
This team likely goes as far as Williams takes them, but it’s quite impressive how well-balanced Tennessee’s scoring is and has been for much of the season.
Jordan Bone, Admiral Schofield and Lamonte Turner scored 14, 19 and 15 points, respectively. For the season, Tennessee had five guys average at least 10 points per game, with Jordan Bowden the only guy who averaged at least 10 for the season but didn’t hit the mark today.
That variety of scorers is one of the reasons Tennessee can be so difficult to defend when they’re clicking offensively. Sure, you can double Williams in the post, but that’s going leave one of the other guys open. And when five guys can score in bunches, one or two of them can have an off night, and it’s not the end of the world. Bowden had just eight points and didn’t make a 3-pointer, but Turner and Schofield each had three of them. Pick your poison.