Game ended at about 7:24 pm eastern time. Tennessee Vols defeat Villanova Wildcats 78-68. Some notes on the game are below.
- Both teams opened up the game struggling with their shots, especially Corey Fisher, who seemed too pumped up again playing in his native New York City.
- Halfway through the opening stanza, the Volunteers started to find their stroke, as they opened up an 8 point lead. Villanova only had 14 points by the under 8 minute TV timeout.
- With all of the difficulties scoring, the Wildcats managed to keep the game close even though 7 Cats had 2 fouls by halftime. Nova fans had to breathe a sigh of relief when the buzzer sounded, since it seemed like Tennessee dominated the first half.
- Halftime score: Tennessee 35 Villanova 30
More after the jump...
- Villanova stole the early momentum of the second half, which got the crowd back into the game. The Cats took their first lead 3 minutes in, and you had the feeling that it was gonna be a close one the rest of the way.
- Over the next ten minutes or so, the contest was a seesaw affair, with the lead for either team never getting above about 5. For the Cats, most of their points came from the charity stripe during this time, as Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Maalik Wayns just couldn't get in rhythm.
- With about 4 minutes left, the game was still very much up in the air, but the Volunteers made the clutch shots down the stretch, and Villanova looked very tired. Once Wayns and Fisher fouled out, the nail was in the coffin without ballhandlers to create offense.
- The Volunteers had 4 players in double figures, with the athletic Scotty Hopson leading the way by notching 18 points on 6-11 shooting. For the Cats, 5 players had 10+ points, and Mouphtaou Yarou was the higher scorer with 15 points. The real story though was the lack of productivity from the Villanova feature guards; Fisher and Wayns combined for 14 points on 4-21 from the field, 11 turnovers, and only 5 assists.
- I think what really stood out in this loss was Villanova's lack of depth. With James Bell still banged up and Jayvaughn Pinkston out indefinitely, the Wildcats have played an 8 man rotation thus far. Playing their 2nd game in about 44 hours, the Villanova guards played like they were fatigued. Obviously, it's no excuse, but from my vantage point, they had no legs on their jump shots. Furthermore, playing a hand in this was Tennessee's athleticism and length, which impressed me a great deal. They have 5 or 6 kids who can really play, including the freshman Tobias Harris, who has the potential to be a true stud.
- It sucks to lose this early, but Tennessee is no slouch. Honestly, it probably doesn't matter who the opponent is if Fish and Wayns are going to play as poorly as they did. It happens sometimes, and with a week to rest, I expect the Cats to get on a roll heading into the New Year.