“Nobody wants to see 37-36; it’s an aesthetic embarrassment, and it’s not fair to the fans.” - Shane Ryan, Grantland.com
Ryan’s article went on to lament how scoring in college basketball is the same as it was in 1982 (before the implementation of the shot clock or three point line) and stressed the need for a 24 or 30 second shot clock to speed up the game. And while I don’t completely disagree with this proposal, it’s not as relevant to Georgetown’s win over Tennessee as he believes.
The true culprit behind this offensive abomination was that both the Vols and Hoyas missed an embarrassing amount of shots. Open shots. Foul shots. Under the basket shots. A low percentage in high percentage shots, if you will.
Tennessee and Georgetown combined to shoot 34 percent from the field, 17 percent from the three point line and (wait for it...) 35 percent from the foul line. Both teams pride themselves on defense, but there are no hands in your face at the foul line. Except sometimes there’s this guy.
But however abysmal the Vols and Hoyas looked offensively Friday, there are still positives to be gained for Tennessee looking forward for the rest of the non-conference schedule.
1. Indiana held North Carolina to 59 points. Georgetown scored 72 against Indiana (64 at the end of regulation). Tennessee held Georgetown to 37. Which means Tennessee could beat Indiana...
Not really, but it does show the team has totally accepted it’s defensive identity. And with games against high scoring Wichita State, Xavier and Memphis coming in the next month, suffocating defense will have to save the Vols if they continue shooting 33 percent from distance.
2. The Vols have yet to allow a team to score more than 70 points.
3. The team is ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense (58.8 PPG), top 70 in field goal percentage defense (39) and rebound margin (5.8) and 13th overall in three-point field goal defense (24.7).
4. Even with consistent double and triple teams, Jarnell Stokes is 45th in the nation and fourth in the SEC in field goal percentage (57.7).
(If you're a nerd like me, here's the link to the stats for 3 and 4.)
It’s unlikely the Vols will have another sub-40 point game any time soon, considering they won’t face another team as impressive as Georgetown defensively, and poor foul shooting and jump shooting are fairly simple to remedy.
So fear not Tennessee fans! There’s reason for optimism even when the Vols score like a middle school rec team.