Nashville, TN– The Tennessee Volunteers traveled to Nashville to play their in-state rival Vanderbilt looking to build back their momentum after a stunning blowout to Kentucky last Saturday. The Commodores were looking to secure back-to-back conference wins for the first time since the 2019-2020 season. The Volunteers need a win in the SEC, as they are only 2-3 through their first five games. The game was a defensive slug-fest until the very end. Tennessee’s Uros Plavsic made key plays down the stretch that would lead to an 8-0 Tennessee run to break a 60-60 tie and give the Volunteers a 68-60 win in front of 7,588 fans. Plavsic finished with 13 points on 6-of-7 from the field with seven rebounds.
With Tennessee’s win tonight, the Volunteers have now won nine straight in the series. It was not a pretty game by any means, with both teams shooting under 37 percent for the game. It really came down to who executed better and made the winning plays down the stretch. Although the rebounding margin was only a +6 for Tennessee, many were offensive rebounds that led to free throw attempts, which Tennessee had the clear advantage in, going 25-of-29 compared to Vanderbilt’s 16-of-23. Neither backcourt tonight had a better game than the other statistically, but when it mattered most, Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi made winning plays. Vanderbilt is going to look back at this game and realize they shot themselves in the foot in the last two minutes of the game. For Jerry Stackhouse and the rest of the Commodores, finishing games has been their Achilles heel so far this season.
The player who stood out the most tonight was Kennedy Chandler. By no means did he have a monster game, but he had a strong second half when Tennessee needed it. He came out more aggressive and showed NBA scouts why he’s a first-round talent with his elite speed and first step, collapsing the defense and finding shooters, as well as being more confident with his shot. Tennessee missed numerous wide-open shots tonight that were created by Chandler. He had his way against Scottie Pippen Jr. the entire night. Chandler scored 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and five steals.
It was a somewhat disappointing night for Pippen Jr. While he scored 18 points, he was not efficient, going 3-of-10 from the floor, along with only two assists and four turnovers. Pippen more often than not, is asked to carry his team on offense. This leads Pippen to take too many bad shots, as well as hold the ball/dribble for too long. However, he does show great patience when he attacks the paint, often getting to the free throw line. Pippen Jr. seems to be more of an off-guard, whether it’s in the NBA or on the top international level. He is a very good shooter with great mechanics. He just has the ball in his hands too much at Vanderbilt.
Tennessee (12-5, 3-3) will host #13 LSU (15-2, 3-2) in a big SEC showdown this Saturday while Vanderbilt (10-7, 2-3) travels to Gainesville to try to get back in the win column against Florida (10-6, 1-3).