“I think we were really good defensively,” said Tennessee’s Lamonte’ Turner, who scored 12 points. “I think we guarded them well, and I think we disrupted a lot of their sets and stuff like that. Offensively for us, I think we turned down some shots, and some shots that normally fall didn’t fall tonight. You have those nights.”
Tennessee (24-2, 12-1 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from its first loss since Thanksgiving week, an 86-69 defeat at No. 4 Kentucky on Saturday to snap a school-record 19-game winning streak.
Vanderbilt (9-17, 0-13) dropped its 14th straight, matching the longest skid in school history. The Commodores had a 14-game losing streak that began in 1934-35 and carried over to the next season.
Even as the losses pile up, Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew remains upbeat.
“You saw the character of these guys, saw how hard they fight,” Drew said. “Losing’s not fun. It brings out the worst. But we’re building something here.”
Vanderbilt shot just 32.1 percent (18 of 56) overall and 23.5 percent (8 of 34) in the second half. UT won despite scoring just two points during a stretch that lasted nearly nine minutes.
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said he liked the way his team responded after the loss to Kentucky, even if the score didn’t necessarily reflect it.
“We came out (Monday) and had as good a practice as we’ve had in probably three weeks,” Barnes said “We came out tonight, and I thought defensively we were very good, and we had some shots we didn’t make.”
Grant Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Vols, and Admiral Schofield added 12 points. Aaron Nesmith scored 13 points to lead Vanderbilt.
Turner put UT ahead for good 16-13 with 12:47 left in the first half when he sank a 3-pointer while getting fouled to produce a four-point play. Turner added another 3 less than a minute later as part of an 11-0 run.
The Vols led by 14 in the first half before their offensive woes enabled Vandy to cut the lead to four on multiple occasions in the second half. The Commodores’ issues on offense prevented them from getting any closer.
“We translated the defensive intensity that we brought to shootaround,” Williams said. “We just didn’t translate much offense.”
The Vols struggled in the opening minutes of the second half for a second straight game, only this time it wasn’t quite as costly.
Kentucky pulled away from Tennessee on Saturday by scoring the first 14 points of the second half. Tennessee scored just two points in the first 7½ minutes of the second half Tuesday but played defense well enough to stay in front.