We’ve all seen some ugly basketball games through the years, it happens. However, Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden may take the cake.
Texas Tech finally stepped up and put Tennessee away in overtime, finding three quick buckets to take control of the game. It was a merciful ending to an ugly game, which saw both sides struggle to find literally any offense.
In Tennessee’s case, it was more about simply missing open shots. The Volunteers went 6-40 from three point range, and much of that had nothing to do with Texas Tech’s elite defense. Tennessee just couldn’t connect on anything, spearheading one of the most frustrating losses in recent memory.
“Obviously it wasn’t a very pretty game from either side,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Texas Tech and Mark, he does a great job defensively, what they do. We knew that their size would be (an issue), one, our guards. Defensively, we did enough. Offensively, we didn’t. Didn’t shoot well. Free throws, in that situation, become big too.”
Tennessee averages 76 points per game this year. They scored 41 in regulation against Texas Tech.
Tennessee was a dreadful 8-16 from the free throw stripe, making matters that much worse. For as easily as Tennessee could have won that game, going 50 percent from the free throw line is painful to think about.
“You think, this is a team that set a school record this year with 17 threes in a game,” Barnes said. “We had some looks tonight but just couldn’t get one to go down. We just kept encouraging our guys to keep taking their shots. But both these teams really had chances to stretch things out. It was one of those games where it was a few possessions. We just couldn’t do enough on the offensive end.”
You’re going to have bad shooting nights, it happens. It’s just unfortunate that it happened in this spot. Texas Tech’s length kept Tennessee out of the paint for much of the night, and the Volunteers needed to be able to knock down some shots from outside to respond to that. As you know, they couldn’t, and they paid the price with the loss.
If Tennessee shoots 20 percent instead of 15, they win going away. That’s the frustrating reality of the game on Tuesday, a result that will sting for quite a while.
“The positive is I don’t know if we can play any worse on offense,” Barnes said. “And we were in the game. We stayed in it.
“It was a grind game and we stayed in it. Had a chance. You think about it, we had a great look to win the game, as bad as we were on the offensive end tonight. That’s part of it. We know we can be a whole lot better.”
As I said after the game, Tennessee just needs to flush this. It’s no reason to panic, no reason to throw in the towel. What are the odds they shoot 6-40 from three again? Pretty low. It’s still December after all, and odds are... this game won’t look too bad on the resume come March.
Tennessee has a chance to rebound Saturday afternoon against UNC-Greensboro, and then again on Tuesday against USC-Upstate.