From My Sporting Perspective

As almost all of you probably already know, Tennessee defeated Memphis 66-62 last night as the #2 team in the nation upset the undefeated #1 team. Coming into the game, all of America was thinking that the Tigers had the rebounding edge in the game. Shockingly, they were outrebounded by Tennessee 46-31 as JaJuan Smith and J.P. Prince led the way with 10 and 8 rebounds, respectively.

You know, there's a saying: live by the three, die by the three. I would say that's what happened to Memphis in the game. They started the game 7 of 11 from deep, but somehow they only had a two or three possession lead over the Vols. Bruce Pearl had the perfect gameplan. It was to pack it in with a 2-3 zone so Memphis couldn't drive. He was relying on his team's ability to hold off the Tigers' initial shooting surge and just stay in the game. They did and when Memphis went cold, Tennessee took over the game.

Memphis really struggled from the line...more than usual. They shot a horrendous 47% from the charity stripe. There are a couple of positives that Memphis can take from this game though. They shot terribly in the second half. They missed a ton of free throws. They didn't execute. They didn't rebound like they normally do. But somehow, someway it was still a one or two possession game down the stretch. If the Tigers play to their full potential, there is not one team in the country that can beat them.

The Tigers definitely proved that they can shut down any top scorer in the country. Their defense on Chris Lofton was nothing short of spectacular. They held him to seven points on 2-11 shooting and didn't even let him make one three. I would also like to comment on J.P. Prince. He was the spark off the bench that Tennessee needed. I've seen him have two great games so far this season and his 13 points and 8 rebounds against the #1 team in the nation was amazing. Derrick Rose, playing in the first huge game of his career, came up huge for Memphis. He started the game making two three-pointers and continued that to finish with 23 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals in 31 minutes of play. Chris Douglas-Roberts also had a decent game with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.

The player of the game has to be, in my opinion, Tyler Smith of Tennessee. He ended up with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Most important of those 16 points were the two recorded on a turnaround jumper with thirty seconds left to play in the game. In my opinion, he was the key in keeping the Vols in the game when Memphis was shooting the ball so well in the first half.

The last two things I would like to mention are free throw shooting and Doneal Mack. With the free throws, Tennessee was 4-4 in the last five minutes while Memphis was ony 1-5 in that same time period. Ironic considering what Coach Calipari was quoted as saying before the game which was basically him telling the media that Memphis will make their free throws down the stretch and that free throws is not a concern with the team. What is he watching? They were terrible from the line against UAB down the stretch as well! Finally, I'd like to talk about the bad shooting game that Memphis's "sharpshooter", Doneal Mack, had. He couldn't get his shot going for his life. He was 0-6 on field goals and 0-5 from the field.

That's all I have to say about this game. Congrats, Tennessee but I still think Memphis will be the team to beat in March. The Volunteers are #1 for the first time in men's basketball history and Memphis's home winning streak (the longest in the country) has come to an end.

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