Trey troubles

Trey troubles

SEC Eastern Division opponents appear to have Tennessee's number these days ... and it's 57.1.

That's the percentage of 3-point shots made by both Georgia and Vanderbilt in their recent upsets of Bruce Pearl's Basketball Vols. The Bulldogs made 8 of 14 shots behind the arc in beating the Big Orange 78-63 a week ago in Athens. Incredibly, the Commodores also hit 8 of 14 from 3 in beating Tennessee 85-76 Wednesday night in Knoxville.

What Georgia and Vanderbilt did from long range is noteworthy, given how stingy Tennessee's 3-point defense was previously. The Vols' first 17 opponents made just 29.0 percent (106 of 365).

Pearl suggests the 3-point success enjoyed by Georgia and Vandy was a matter of good shot selection by them rather than bad perimeter defense by the Vols.

"Vanderbilt and Georgia shoot fewer 3s and they shoot a better percentage," the UT coach said. "The reason some of those (earlier) teams didn't shoot a good percentage is that they got 3-happy.

"Fourteen is not a lot of 3 balls. They (Dawgs and 'Dores) are taking better shots. They're not shooting as many. Sometimes your opponent shoots so many that their percentage is poor. These last two teams have not settled for the 3-ball."

While the last two opponents have been red-hot from 3, Tennessee has been ice cold. The Vols' 3-point shooting was spectacular in back-to-back games against Kansas (9 of 18, 50 percent) and Auburn (7 of 18, 38.9 percent) earlier this month. Since then, however, the Vols have struggled:

- 6 of 23 vs. Ole Miss (26.1 percent)

- 3 of 10 at Alabama (30.0 percent)

- 3 of 16 at Georgia (18.8 percent)

- 6 of 20 vs. Vanderbilt (30. 0 percent)

The four-game total shows Tennessee hitting just 18 of 69 shots from behind the arc, which computes to a mere 26.1 percent.

A notable exception for the Vols has been Scotty Hopson. The sophomore wing has made 50 percent (9 of 18) of his 3-balls over the past four games. Conversely, the rest of the team is hitting 17.6 percent (9 of 51) over the same span. Freshman Skylar McBee has been especially snakebit, making just 12.5 percent (2 of 16).

Senior point guard Bobby Maze is convinced McBee will find his stroke at UT's Pratt Pavilion practice facility and bounce back quickly.

"I told Skylar to keep his head up because any player can go through a drought," Maze said. "Skylar shoots the ball more than anybody. I guarantee you he's up there at Pratt right now shooting. It (lack of practice) has nothing to do with why he missed those shots."

Even if McBee rediscovers his 3-point stroke, the Vols need to stop allowing opponents to shoot 57.1 percent from behind the arc. Asked if Tennessee's perimeter defense was a problem against Georgia, Maze shook his head.

"Not necessarily," he said. "They were taking 'em and making 'em. They knocked down their shots and we didn't knock down ours.

"We've got to do a better job of making shots."

And a better job of stopping opponents from making shots, as well.

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