Tennessee’s 2019-20 season has turned into a disappointment. The Vols dropped a tough one on the road on Saturday night against South Carolina after controlling much of the game late. That loss seeming ended Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament hopes, especially with a tough stretch of games set to close the season.
The Volunteers lost senior point guard Lamonte Turner before SEC play began, then senior guard Jordan Bowden began the coldest stretch of shooting of his entire career. In a spot where Tennessee needed Bowden to carry them, the Knoxville native just hasn’t been able to get shots to fall.
“We all feel for Jordan because, one thing I will tell you, he has continued to defend at a high level, which is hard to do when you’re not playing as well as you want to play on the offensive end,” Barnes said of Bowden’s struggles.
Bowden is averaging over 12 points per game, but is shooting just 25 percent from three-point range. That’s down from 37 percent as a junior and 39 percent as a sophomore. He’s found other ways to stay engaged offensively lately, attacking the rim and having a few big second halves lately.
But the shooting, something that Tennessee hasn’t had much of from anyone not named Santiago Vescovi, just hasn’t been there.
“For a guy that has struggled as much as he has, he hasn’t done that on the defensive end, and to be honest with you, we all keep thinking sooner or later, it’s got to happen,” Barnes said. “Obviously, he’s having his worst shooting year that he’s had since he’s been here. We just hope it happens because he’s doing what he should be doing, and sometimes it can become a mental block, and we do everything we can to try to get him to understand that when he’s open, he’s got to shoot the ball.”
Tennessee is now 14-11 overall and 6-6 in the SEC. They have Vanderbilt on Tuesday, then finish with Auburn twice, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky. There isn’t much time for Bowden to get straightened out, but Barnes is holding out hope.
“We just ask him to take good, in rhythm shots to be honest with you,” Barnes said. “He just needs to see a couple of them go in, and hopefully he can get it going.”