Vols tough to figure

Vols tough to figure

Tennessee basketball's team colors may be orange and white but the team personality is clearly Jekyll and Hyde.

This is a team that was good enough to beat No. 3 Pitt 83-76 in Pittsburgh, dump No. 7 Villanova 78-68 in New York City and hammer No. 21 Memphis 104-84 in Knoxville. It's also a team that was bad enough to lose 49-48 to a Charlotte team with a losing record and to bow 91-78 to a College of Charleston squad that fell 69-49 at Morehead State two days later.

Given how unpredictable the 10-4 Vols were under normal circumstances in Games 1 through 14, there's no telling how they'll perform under the odd circumstances they'll face in Game 15 Saturday at Arkansas (10-3). That's because head coach Bruce Pearl is banned from Bud Walton Arena beginning two hours before the 12:30 CST tipoff and ending one hour after the final horn as part of an eight-game SEC suspension.

Even if Pearl were on hand, predicting which Vol team shows up would be a risky venture. Consider how inconsistent Tennessee has been in each area of play this season:

SHOOTING: The Vols shot lights out in Game 2 vs. Belmont (53.2 percent), Game 6 vs. Middle Tennessee (50.0 percent), Game 7 vs. Pitt (56.3 percent) and Game 14 vs. Memphis (53.7 percent). Conversely, they couldn't buy a basket in Game 9 at Charlotte (34.9 percent), Game 10 vs. USC (38.3 percent), Game 11 vs. Belmont (37.7 percent) and Game 13 vs. Charleston (37.5 percent).

DEFENSE: The Vols limited Chattanooga to 32.7 percent shooting in Game 1, Missouri State to 35.6 in Game 3, Virginia Commonwealth to 30.9 in Game 4, Villanova to 34.5 in Game 5, Charlotte to 30.2 in Game 9 and Belmont to 35.7 in Game 10. Conversely, they allowed Oakland to shoot 53.6 percent in Game 8, Southern Cal to shoot 47.2 percent in Game 10 and Charleston to shoot 57.1 in Game 13.

BALL SECURITY: The Vols committed just 11 turnovers in Game 1 vs. Chattanooga, 9 in Game 8 vs. Oakland, 11 in Game 9 at Charlotte, 10 in Game 12 vs. UT Martin and 11 in Game 13 vs. Charleston. Conversely, they committed 27 in Game 2 vs. Belmont, 17 in Game 6 vs. Middle Tennessee, 20 in Game 7 vs. Pitt and 18 in Game 10 vs. USC.

REBOUNDING: The Vols were plus-11 in Game 1 vs. Chattanooga, plus-16 in Game 2 vs. Belmont, plus-9 in Game 4 vs. Virginia Commonwealth, plus-20 in Game 6 vs. Middle Tennessee, plus-15 vs. USC and plus-12 in Game 13 vs. Charleston. Conversely, they were minus-6 vs. in Game 3 vs. Missouri State, minus-1 in Game 8 vs. Oakland, minus-7 in Game 11 vs. Belmont and minus-5 in Game 12 vs. UT Martin.

3-POINT SHOOTING: The Vols shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc in Game 5 vs. Villanova, 45.8 in Game 6 vs. Middle Tennessee, 63.6 in Game 7 vs. Pitt and 57.1 in Game 14 vs. Memphis. Conversely, they shot just 25.0 percent in Game 1 vs. Chattanooga, 21.4 percent in Game 4 vs. Virginia Commonwealth, 22.2 percent in Game 8 vs. Oakland and 11.8 percent in Game 9 vs. Charlotte.

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