Sunday, January 4, 2009

Slow start dooms Volunteers

Tennessee dug 25-9 hole by second TV timeout

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl shows his frustration during the first half Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl shows his frustration during the first half Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Postgame: KU vs. Tennessee

Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self, center Cole Aldrich and guard Sherron Collins reflect on Saturday's win against Tennessee.

Highlights from Saturday's matchup against Tennessee

Various high points from Saturday's Kansas vs. Tennessee game. The Jayhawks defeated the Volunteers 92-85.

Audio clips

2009 KU-Tennessee

Rocky Top encountered a rocky stop on the road Saturday afternoon.

The 14th-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team, traveling to a crammed and rowdy Allen Fieldhouse, surrendered more points to an opponent than in any game this season in a 92-85 loss against Kansas University.

It’s still debatable whether the Volunteers even showed up for the first nine minutes.

The Vols, looking like they left their intensity in Knoxville, allowed either a dunk or layup on each of the Jayhawks’ first seven field goals. When Tennessee headed to its bench for the second TV timeout, it trailed, 25-9, with 11:18 remaining.

Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl said he thought KU’s young team might be vulnerable to Tennessee’s pressure. But the Vols’ poor start boosted the Jayhawks’ confidence and did little to dull the raucous crowd. At tipoff, the computer noise-monitoring system on the floor of the gym’s south end registered 94 decibels — a level loud enough that sustained exposure would result in hearing loss.

“You can’t win on the road starting the way we started,” Pearl said. “You just can’t. It just doesn’t set the tone.”

Tennessee, which never held a lead, began the game a miserable 4-for-16 from the field. That problem was compounded by its defense, which helped KU to a blistering 11-for-16 start.

Vols players insisted they weren’t rattled. They were just terrible.

“You never plan to come out and get in a hole like that,” said forward Tyler Smith, who paced the Vols with 21 points and nine rebounds. “But it’s something that happened. And that’s the something that happened to us the last few away games. That’s something we’ve got to control, and that starts off with our defense.”

The Volunteers were particularly impressed with the play of Kansas guard Sherron Collins, who scored 26 points and dished nine assists.

“We really didn’t have an answer for Collins,” Pearl said. “Collins did whatever he wanted out there, and that was a factor.”

Said Vols 6-foot-9 center Wayne Chism: “I think the team fed off him. If we ran to him, he kicked it out and got people open shots.”

A full-court press and better shooting touch helped Tennessee hang around in the second half. The Vols shot 1-for-11 from three in the first half but 8-of-15 in the second. The final triple occurred when Chism banked in a three-pointer with 12 seconds left, drawing the Vols within 91-85. It was the closest they’d been since guard Cameron Tatum’s steal and layup cut the Vols’ deficit to 14-9 just five minutes into the contest.

Tennessee fell to 9-3 and had its three-game winning streak snapped.

Pearl wasn’t surprised.

“Look, Kansas is an NCAA Tournament team,” Pearl said. “It’s hard to win on the road against NCAA Tournament teams.”

Chism scored 17 points. Bobby Maze added 14, Scotty Hopson 11 and Tatum 10.

Kansas (10-3), which had not produced a so-called signature nonconference victory thus far, finally penned one against a nationally ranked opponent Saturday.

“They needed it,” Smith said. “And they came out and got what they wanted.”


CasperCorps 11 years, 2 months ago

Nice win, but we've got a long way to go if we want to beat teams of that calibur on the road. Defense, defense, defense cause no way we keep up our scoring like that on the road or at nuetral sites.. Looking like maybe third or fourth in the Big Twelve this year. The south looks tuff and Mizzery might actually be contenders in the North.. Rockem Hawks!!

actorman 11 years, 2 months ago

You make a good point, Casper, but I think you're wrong when you assume they're not going to improve to the point of challenging for the conference title. They've already shown some improvement, and Mario Little is just getting started. And Self's teams have always improved as the season goes along. (Of course it also doesn't hurt that KU only has to play OU and UT once each.) I'm confident that KU will be right in the mix at the end.

Dirk Medema 11 years, 2 months ago

Agreed Actorman. And the fact that we don't play Baylor until Feb, and OU/UT until March just works that much more into our favor. The other thing that really works for us is the fact that no one else (maybe Baylor) has the quality of PG play that we have with Sherron and Tyshawn. Heck, even for all of Brady's much publicized "short"comings in the half court, he even provides a break for those two at times in bringing the ball upcourt. That is not insignificant when Sherron is asked to do so much else on offense and Tyshawn is still a frosh.We'll likely lose more than 3, as everyone expected from the very beginning, but the sky is still the limit for this and any other KU team.Rock Chalk

Dirk Medema 11 years, 2 months ago

It was also really nice to keep Cole on the floor for the majority of the game, even if MM^2 were both gone by the end.

jayhawker_97 11 years, 2 months ago

jesse, are you from knoxville?"slow start"?? how about "KU's excellent defense"?? or "KU's high percentage shooting"??it's not about them, man. it's the KU team who did a tremendous job of beating the crap out of them. like everyone else here said, it's just the beginning. we haven't even seen all those freshers contribute a big deal yet. half the points came from the dynamic duo, can you even imagine, and i believe this, when the rest of them started to contribute points? "slow start" but surely to a very good beginning, we'll see them mature and improve their performance in the next upcoming games.

John Randall 11 years, 2 months ago

The Phog definitely ruled on Saturday. I've only been to two games in AFH since 1966, but still get that feeling between my shoulders when watching from the recliner. There is no other place like it -- not just the building, but the crowd makes it truly one of a kind. For my class of '62, admission was a punch on the activity card and many home games had half the student body (10k) in attendance. When I hear clueless announcers make 'home court' references about Kemper or Sprint Ctr, I just guffaw out loud.

jaybate 11 years, 2 months ago

The Oklahoma City Thunder is 1-12 in December at 3-28 overall.Please stay away from Bill Self until the end of next year's ring.Or make that until he has won at least 3 in Lawrence.

Hibachi33 11 years, 2 months ago

This team shares the ball extremely well and has some guys that can hit the open 3. Sheron is learning to trust th wing players better as a result. Coach Self will get the defensive intensity up and these kids will be a very tough out for a 2 or 3 seed in March. Next season they will be a top 10 quality team like the Rush, Chalmers, Wright, Collins, Kaun, Jackson, teams the past few years. Wow!! That is some talent they lost huh? No wonder they won the title!! It is amazing that they are this good so fast after all that they did lose. I love the character and fight of the current team. Just keep working boys!!Rock Chalk!!!

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