FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2021, file photo, Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) brings the ball downcourt against Mississippi State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Nashville, Tenn. Pippen Jr. is a member of The Associated Press All-SEC team in voting announced Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Tennessee rebound against Vanderbilt

No. 24 Tennessee (12-5, 3-3) men’s basketball traveled to Vanderbilt (10-7, 2-3) on Tuesday night to get a rebound win in a tightly contested game. The Volunteers pushed away late into the second half, scoring the last 8 points of the game to give them the win and the final score 68-60.

Tennessee gets back on track defensively

After a rough outing on Saturday against Kentucky and allowing 107 points, the Tennessee Volunteers seemed to have flipped the switch defensively last night against their in-state rivals, the Vanderbilt Commodores.

There was some tension when these teams face each other. Early in the first half, Tennessee senior guard Santiago Vescovi got tangled up with one of the Vanderbilt players.

Despite having their own rough outing on offense, the Volunteer defense vaulted past the Commodores. Tennessee struggled offensively in this game and really could not get anything going. Luckily, their defense showed up last night. The Volunteers suffocated the Commodores and made it hard for them to create any space. Vanderbilt shot 36.7% from the field and 30.8% from three. Additionally, Tennessee blocked six shots and forced the Commodores into 21 total turnovers.

Freshman Phenom

One player for the Volunteers who had a nose for the ball and forcing turnovers was star freshman Kennedy Chandler. The Tennessee native used his athleticism and IQ to find himself in great spots on defense and to position himself for steals all night long. Chandler was all over the stat sheet last night. He finished with 13 points, four assist, four rebounds and five steals. Chandler ended the night with a team-high five steals and some of which led to offensive scores.

This game was a back-and-forth nail biter. Neither team could push away from the other. When Tennessee threw a punch, Vanderbilt returned the favor. This continued for most of the second half. With a little over four minutes remaining in the game, the star freshman was back again for Tennessee. Chandler made a move to blow by his defender and finish at the rim for two points plus the foul. He would convert the three-point play which pushed their lead to seven over the Commodores.

Late push for Tennessee

Unfortunately for the Volunteers, they would let the Commodores back into the game. The Commodores went on their own eight point run to even the game up at 60-60. This run included back-to-back threes to tie it.

The Volunteers would not let this faze them though, as these scores would be the last for the Commodores. Tennessee’s defense, to no surprise, closed out this game. One huge steal with under a minute left sealed this game and led to free throws to end it. The Tennessee Volunteers would end up winning 68-60 over the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Upcoming schedule for the Volunteers

Tennessee will be back in action on Saturday where they will face No. 13 LSU at home. After that, they will take on Florida next Wednesday (1/26). Lastly, they will end the month of January with a road game against No. 23 Texas in the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

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