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UT Vandy recap: Glass half empty of half full?

ut vandy recap

So, real quick, if you missed the video I posted on Tuesday, be sure to check it out by clicking HERE. Though it’s not gotten the play that some of the past ones have, it’s still done well. But more importantly, it’s garnered a lot of nice comments from readers, so be sure to take a peek if you missed it.

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As Tennessee coasted to a convincing road victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores last night, I couldn’t hep but wonder if the basketball Vols had finally turned the corner. After all, it was the first time Tennessee (13-10, 5-6 SEC) had pulled off back-to-back conference victories. What’s more, both of these victories were on the road, only their first and second road wins of the year.

There’s a lot of evidence which suggests the Vols are finally starting to gel. And that they could maybe even make a late-season run, much like the 9-1 run with which they closed out last year’s regular season. Yet, there’s also a lot of evidence which suggests this year’s team is a far cry from the 2012 one that nearly made the big dance.

So which is it, folks. Glass half empty or half full?

UT Vandy recap

I’ve been tough on Jarnell. But I’ve also been the first to say that if he uses his physicality to dominate the boards, his offense will take care of itself. That’s why it’s no coincidence that when Jarnell rebounds well, he scores well, too. Hence his six consecutive double doubles.

But given Jarnell’s recent success, it was no surprise that Vanderbilt doubled down on him virtually every time he touched the ball. And last night, Jarnell’s recognition was outstanding as evidenced by his quick and decisive actions. Usually it was a quick move to the bucket. Other times is was a crisp pass to a cutting Volunteer.

The big fella can still disappear from time to time and last night’s second half was a perfect example. He only scored three of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes and wasn’t anywhere near the force he’d been in the first half.

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Trae Golden is not only back, but playing with incredible energy, to boot. He’s been much more aggressive in seeking his shot, and, what’s more, he’s been hitting his runner. As much as this team needs Jarnell to be a dominant physical force, both in the paint and on the glass, it also needs a point guard with a bit of moxie. Since his return from his tweaked hammy, Trae’s given us both.

Shades of Arkansas when Vanderbilt switched to a 1-2-2 press early in the second half, forcing the Vols into five quick turnovers, quickly cutting UT’s 16-point in half. During that stretch, the Vols went scoreless on seven consecutive possessions.

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One got the sense last night that the Vols had finally found their identity — something they’ve been tinkering with for a while now. Jarnell was dominant. Josh was a ball hawk. Armani was as athletic. Jordan was versatile. And Trae was the straw that stirred the drink. The 40 first-half points UT put up were the most since playing lowly Presbyterian in December.

Tennessee only scored 18 second half points against a pretty bad Vanderbilt team (9-14, 3-8 SEC).

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Chievous gave us great minutes off the bench and drained both shots he took, one of them a three.

Skyler remains largely ineffective, logging 24 minutes that yielded a stat line that was full of zeros. As in 0-3 from the field (all three pointers), 0 rebounds and 0 steals. The only number he posted was 1 assist. UT needs more from him if they’re to close the season with a bang.

So at the end of the day, I’m not sure what to make of this win or this team. Was the W a sign of a team that’s finally clicking on all cylinders? Or was the W simply the appropriate smack down a team like Tennessee should administer on a team like Vanderbilt?

I can’t say I know for sure. But I certainly know which one I’m hoping is the case. I suspect we’ll learn a lot more this weekend when we play the Nerlens Noel-less Kentucky Wildcats.

Photo from @Vol_Photos — one of my favorite Twitter follows.

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