1. There’s little question that Tennessee’s offense runs through the post with Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Vanderbilt had no answer in the first half, or for the game at that matter, for the pair of Tennesse big men, as the duo combined for 26 points. Williams and Schofield continuously muscled their defenders out from the block for easy lay-ins. On two separate occasions, Schofield showed his strength on the offensive glass. Schofield powered his way, throwing a defender to the side on one and on the other offensive board, he tipped in a shot despite a defender draped all over his left arm. Williams is just surgical in the post. The Charlotte native may be undersized a 6-7, but he uses his size to his advantage with a plethora of post moves including a devastating up and under and a spin move to his strong side shoulder where he’s able to back into a taller defender avoiding a shot blocker. Williams notched a career-high 37 points, while Schofield matched his high of 22 points. Rick Barnes is going to need a lot more of that if the Vols are going to be among the top teams in the SEC.
2. The three-point streak continued for Vanderbilt and was a key for the Dores in the first half as they connected on 8 of 15 from behind the arc. Riley LaChance’s three at the buzzer put Vandy up 45-35 at the half. The three-point barrage was particularly effective given that Tennessee was settling for mainly two-point baskets, and only made 1 of their 5 first half attempt from long range. This is the second straight game where Vandy connected on eight treys at home in SEC play (went 8 for 16 against Alabama). In each game, the Commodores have led by double-digits at the break.
3. The legend of Saben Lee continues. The freshman guard has been arguably the Commodores most valuable player over the past month of the season thanks to his athleticism and steady play at the point guard spot, which has allowed LaChance to play off of the ball. Speaking of that athleticism, towards the end of the first half, Lee decided to show off by going baseline past Lamonte Turner to posterize John Fulkerson with a one-handed slam. Two things: One, Turner owes Fulkerson and his family an apology; two, to add further embarrassment to the Fulkerson family, Lee is 6-2, while Fulkerson is 6-9. On the night, Lee scored a team-high 21 on 7 of 10 shooting.
4. Tennessee sophomore guard Jordan Bowden decided to join the party in the second. After being held scoreless in the first half, Bowden scored 8 of the Vols first 10 points of the second frame helping cut the Commodore lead down to 52-47 prompting an early timeout by Vandy head coach Bryce Drew. Bowden came into tonight’s contest leading all Tennessee guards on the season in scoring, averaging 10.5 per game. In SEC play, Bowden was only scoring 5.0 per game coming into tonight, while shooting a lowly 25 percent from the field. The Knoxville native is also shooting an absurd 28 of 47 from behind the arc. Bowden ended the night with 12 points falling short of his magic number of 15 points, where the Vols are 4-0 when he reaches that total.
5. Tennessee took control of the game midway through the second half when the Vols went on a 10-0 run amidst a 3:14 scoring drought by Vanderbilt. In all, Tennessee outscored Vanderbilt 45-28 in the final 15:41 of the game. The 92 points scored by the Vols is the most ever scored in the history of the rivalry at Memorial Gym.
6. Three-point shooting was as much of the story in the first half, for Vanderbilt, as it was for the Dores in the second. After a Matthew-Fisher Davis three with 16:36 to play, Vanderbilt would go 15:52 without a three-point make. Even more alarming during that stretch, the Commodores would go nearly eight minutes without an attempt—Vanderbilt came in ranked top 20 in attempts per game.
7. This was just the beginning of what will be a challenging week for Vanderbilt, as No. 21 Kentucky visits on Saturday afternoon. The loss brings the Dores to 6-10 overall and 1-3 in the SEC. I’ve echoed this sentiment all year long, in what is an improved SEC it is hard to see a way back for this Vanderbilt team even with the 14 games remaining on the conference slate. Then again, this was a team that was sub .500 last February and found it’s way into the NCAA Tournament. Vandy will hit the road this weekend, travelling to face a young Mississippi State team.
8. For Tennessee, the Vols sat here a week ago at 0-2 in the conference with a top 20 Kentucky team visiting on Saturday and knowing that they had a tough test awaiting them tonight in Nashville. The Volunteers responded by dominating the tail end of the second half in both games, outscoring the two 104-67. This has been one of the issues for Barnes’ team in early season losses to Villanova and North Carolina. If this Tennessee team continues to find combined efforts like they got from Williams and Schofield and are able to outperform their opponents in the second half like they have in the two games, then good things are coming their way.