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A roadmap for playing Tennessee

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Wanna know how Tennessee got beat?  Take a look at this chart adapted from Ken Pomeroy's website:

  Offense Defense
Date Opponent Result Site Pace Eff. eFG% TO% OR% FTR Eff. eFG% TO% OR% FTR eFG-TO% delta
11/24/08 Texas (s) (sr) L, 97-78 N 73 106.5 50.8 17.7 29.1 23.9 132.4 72.7 17.7 30 41.8 -21.9
01/22/08 Kentucky (s) (sr) L, 72-66 A 62 106.2 44.7 14.5 32 36.8 115.9 53.3 19.3 39.6 62.2 -3.8
12/15/08 Western Kentucky (s) (sr) W, 88-82 N 76 115.5 49.2 14.4 37.8 67.7 107.6 49.3 18.4 38.1 32.4 3.9
11/23/08 West Virginia (s) (sr) W, 74-72 N 76 96.5 46.2 19.6 23.7 71.7 93.8 44.9 24.8 35.1 40.7 6.5
01/09/08 Mississippi (s) (sr) W, 85-83 H 69 122.5 55.9 13 36.5 19.1 119.7 49.3 14.4 44.6 25.4 8
12/19/08 NC Asheville (s) (sr) W, 86-73 H 68 125.7 53.1 11.7 38 32.3 106.7 50 21.9 38.8 49.1 13.3
11/16/08 Prairie View A&M (s) (sr) W, 89-75 H 78 114 47.9 16.7 49.1 66.2 96.1 55.6 38.4 55.7 16.1 14
01/12/08 South Carolina (s) (sr) W, 80-56 A 68 117 49.2 17.5 44.4 42.6 81.9 42.2 24.9 28.9 43.1 14.4
12/04/08 Chattanooga (s) (sr) W, 76-70 A 78 97.4 44.7 20.5 34.8 33.3 89.7 51.8 42.3 52.3 26.8 14.7
01/19/08 Ohio St. (s) (sr) W, 74-69 H 72 102.8 50.8 13.9 30.9 26.1 95.8 42.6 20.8 32.9 36.1 15.1
12/22/08 Xavier (s) (sr) W, 82-75 A 72 112.5 53.2 13.7 23.9 31.8 102.9 51 28.8 40.7 54 17.3
11/27/08 North Carolina A&T (s) (sr) W, 93-59 H 83 112 51.9 21.7 41.5 24.1 71.1 46.4 34.9 31.6 33.9 18.7
11/30/08 Louisiana Lafayette (s) (sr) W, 98-70 H 73 133.3 63.1 17.7 43.9 33.9 95.2 50.9 24.5 30.3 27.1 19
12/29/08 Gonzaga (s) (sr) W, 82-72 a 71 114.8 53.7 14 34.7 22.4 100.8 45.5 25.2 44.9 50 19.4
01/17/08 Vanderbilt (s) (sr) W, 80-60 H 74 107.9 52.4 21.6 42.3 38.1 80.9 39.5 28.3 36.9 43.9 19.6
11/09/08 Temple (s) (sr) W, 80-63 H 76 105 50.8 19.7 37.5 36.5 82.7 41.5 30.2 35.4 33.9 19.8
11/14/08 Arkansas Monticello (s) (sr) W, 101-44 H 73 136.9 65.4 13.6 32.3 33.9 59.6 31.3 32.5 34.1 26.8 53
11/20/08 Middle Tennessee (s) (sr) W, 109-40 H 73 147.9 79 12.2 22.9 49.1 54.3 33.3 39.4 17.7 40.5 72.9


What I have done here is subtracted turnover percentage from effective FG% both offensively and defensively, then taken the difference between those numbers, i.e. (O eFG% - O TO%)-(D eFG% - D TO%).  When those numbers are upside down for the Vols, they have lost 100% of the time.  When they are close, the games are close.

The Vols are very, very sensitive to defensive turnovers.  When they don't get at least 25% turnovers, their chances of winning drop dramatically, even more so than when they shoot poorly or allow the other team to shoot a high effective percentage.  For instance, take a look at Prairie View A&M - they shot a higher eFG% than the Vols by a significant number.  What they didn't do was defeat the Vol press like Kentucky did last night, because almost 40% of Prairie View's possessions were turnovers.

The Volunteer's defensive efficiency is extremely sensitive to turnover %, more than any other team we have played.  That tells you that their half-court defense is not that great, but since they take good care of the basketball, it doesn't have to be.  They can allow other teams to shoot the ball well and still beat them by turning them over.  Those turnovers in Pearl's system turn into a lot of open 3 pointers or layups, and you can see that in games where they have a high defensive turnover %, their offensive efficiency is almost always high.

So when you take care of the ball against the Vols, you not only affect their defensive efficiency, but their offensive efficiency as well.  Bottom line -- handle their press, and you have a shot at these guys.  Easier said than done, but Kentucky proved that it can be done, even by a lousy ballhandling team.