That feeling proved deadly accurate as the Vols went on to commit a season-high 25 turnovers and score a season-low 47 points on their way to a 65-47 beat-down at the hands of the Commodores. Vandy improves to 15-5 overall and 5-1 in SEC play. Tennessee drops to 9-11 and 1-4.
As expected, the Commodores clogged the lane and dared Tennessee's perimeter players to score. They couldn't. The Vols' perimeter players combined to go 5 for 28 from the field. Trae Golden was 2 for 11, Josh Richardson 1 for 5, Cameron Tatum 1 for 5, Jordan McRae 0 for 3, Skylar McBee 0 for 3 and Wes Washpun 1 for 1.
Power forward Jeronne Maymon led the Vols with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Mid-term freshman Jarnell Stokes produced 6 points and 10 rebounds but was guilty of 7 turnovers. Reserve center Yemi Makanjuola contributed 7 points and 6 rebounds in 12 active minutes but was ejected with 1:25 left after blatantly grabbing Vandy's John Jenkins.
Jeffery Taylor hit 8 of 14 shots (3 of 3 from 3) and led Vanderbilt with 23 points. Jenkins added 16.
Tennessee shot a mere 35.3 percent (18 of 51) from the field, including a frigid 10 percent (1 of 10) from beyond the arc. The Vols won the backboard battle 40-32 but that was nowhere near enough to offset the 25 turnovers. Vandy shot 42.6 percent (23 of 54) from the field and 44.4 percent (8 of 18).
Speaking on his post-game show, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said the Commodores "really took us out of our rhythm offensively. They were physical, bumping us around, and had us catching the ball four or five feet further out than we wanted to. We just couldn't get into a good flow."
Coming off a 60-57 upset of No. 13 Connecticut, Tennessee hoped to carry over that momentum with a fast start against Vanderbilt. Instead, the Vols committed turnovers on three of their first five possessions in falling behind 9-0.
Martin told the Vols they were "playing on their heels," a comment which sparked a mild rally. Tennessee closed to 13-8 only to see Vanderbilt go on a 17-2 run that widened the gap to 30-10.
The Vols made a 6-0 run to pull within 30-16 but never seriously threatened to get back in the game. Vandy's lead peaked at 27 points (54-27) with 10:56 remaining.
Although he credited Vanderbilt's defense for being physical and active, Martin said Tennessee's ballhandling was "unacceptable" in that the Vols failed to "make the simple pass and take care of the ball."
Martin wore an orange blazer Tuesday night in honor of former Vol head man Ray Mears. The blazer stood out but not as much as Tennessee's turnover total.
"He obviously did some great things for the program and I thought it was a nice gesture on his behalf because of what he brought to the table," Martin said. "But I've got to represent that orange a little better next time."
Tennessee returns to action Saturday, hosting Auburn at 6 o'clock in Thompson-Boling Arena.