Tennessee - #9? Overrated
Some fans may argue that #9 Tennessee should be ranked higher based on their credentials: a 9-1 record and their sole loss is to #4 Purdue by one point, on a neutral court. However, I would disagree. The Volunteers should have lost that game by more than just a point. Purdue went cold and only connected on one field-goal in the final 4:53 of that game. Purdue's stifling defense held the potent Tennessee offense in check, while the Boilermakers star, Robbie Hummel, struggled to find his outside shot throughout the entire Paradise Jam Tournament.
Tennessee barely made it out of the match up with the Big East's cellar dwellar, DePaul, the night before. They relied on a pair of made free throws with 13.7 seconds left to defeat the Blue Demons.
Perhaps, the Volunteers are not as good as advertised. They looked very ordinary for almost the entire game against a 5-5 Wyoming Cowboys squad. During that game, the Volunteers only led by 1 at halftime despite being down most of the first half, including a 10-point deficit. Tennessee turned it on in the second half, as they forced the Cowboys' ball handlers into 29 turnovers and kept running in transition to build a 20-point advantage late in the game; typical Tennessee basketball. But, they were only 4-20 from 3-point range and star players Tyler Smith and Scotty Hopson failed to take over. That being said, their 9-1 record does not lie- they are what they are.
Over the next few games, they play against an underrated Memphis team (7-1 with its only loss coming by way of Kansas by two points), then they face top-ranked Kansas and a ranked Mississippi team to kick-off SEC Conference play. Both Kansas and Ole' Miss have the ball-handlers to break Tennessee's pressure, the shooters to make them pay, and the shutdown defenders to put clamps on Smith and Hopson.
By Corey Ruff - President - 12-16-09