Vols vs Wisconsin

Tennessee's Drew Pember (3) dribbles the ball during Tennessee's men's basketball game against the University of Wisconsin on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee dropped its third game in its last four Saturday falling to a struggling Wisconsin squad, 68-48.

Life in the post Lamonté Turner era got off to a tough start for Tennessee as the Vols offense struggled and the Badgers were hot from 3-point range.

Here are three takeaways.

That offense

Lamonté Turner’s offensive struggles have been well documented this season, but there was a reason everyone knew his loss was a huge one for Tennessee.

That was showed Saturday with what could only be described as a horrendous offensive display.

Tennessee scored just 48 points, a Rick Barnes era low, and shot 35% from the field and 33% from 3-point range in the loss.

With Tennessee trailing by 14 at halftime they desperately needed a run to start the second half to spark any chance of a come from behind win. Instead the Vols didn’t score for the first 6:24 of the half and didn’t make a shot from the floor for the first 7:20.

Without Turner in the lineup the Vols couldn’t find open shots and struggled to take care of the ball.

Tennessee recorded 17 turnovers on the day while the Vols’ leading guards, Jordan Bowden and Josiah-Jordan James combined for 11 points on 3 of 19 shooting.

Badgers heat it up from beyond the arch

Wisconsin entered Saturday’s matchup with a 6-0 record at home and an 0-5 record on the road. One of the best ways to get out of that funk is to start shooting the ball better, and the Badgers did just that Saturday.

Wisconsin built a 14-point halftime lead by shooting 7 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half as Brevin Pritzel hit 3 of his 5 3-pointers. Pritzel would end with  17 points while shooting an impressive 6 of 10 from the field.

Wisconsin wouldn’t cool down much in the second half as the Badgers would throw in 14 more threes and end the day shooting 42% from beyond the arch.

Wisconsin’s 11 made 3-pointers tied there second most of the season. The Badgers high came against Marquette when they made 15 triples.

Struggles at the charity stripe

For as much as Tennessee’s offense has struggled this season the Vols have been consistently good at the free throw line entering the game shooting 76% from the line.

The Vols were fantastic at the charity stripe a week ago where they knocked down all 23 of their attempts against Cincinnati and Jacksonville State. That wasn’t the case today where the Vols were a dreadful 53% at the line.

The Vols went 3 of 7 at the line in the first half including an 0-3 performance from Yves Pons including a crucial miss on the front end of the bonus with Tennessee trailing by just five late in the first half.

Tennessee ended the game shooting 10 of 19 at the line.

This Tennessee team isn’t offensively talented enough to struggle like that at the free throw line and beat quality opponents. There’s no reason to believe today’s free throw shooting was anything but an anomaly, but it is something Tennessee simply has to get fixed in SEC play. 

Up Next

Tennessee opens SEC play next Saturday when the Vols will host LSU to Thompson-Boling Arena. Tipoff is set for noon ET.

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