February 23, 2011

Defense carries day, Vandy notebook

NASHVILLE -- Tennessee took the floor in Memorial Gym on Tuesday night with seemingly everything working against them. The Vols had lost four of their last five and were taking on a Vandy squad that's looked as good as anyone in the SEC in winning five straight in February. The Vols headed back to Knoxville with the wind beneath their wings and a new lease on life though after dispatching the 'Dores 60-51 on their home floor.

It was a gaudy win to be sure, and one that greatly enhances the Vols' NCAA tournament resume´. But there was nothing fancy about how the Vols got it. Tennessee prevailed in one of college basketball's toughest venues on the strength of their guile and determination.

If you're looking for the keys to victory tonight, you want find them in any of the flashier aspects of the game of basketball. The foundation for this win was laid in toughness, and that toughness showed up in the stat sheet with some unusual numbers.

The most obvious explanation for a victory few of the even staunchest Tennessee fans saw coming was in the Vols defense. Vanderbilt shot just 38.6% for the game and an anemic 30% in the second half.

Digging deeper into the box-score though shows some more subtle reasons for the win.

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