It was a battle Friday evening when Tennessee took on Georgetown in the nation's capital.
It wasn't a pretty game with both teams failing to shoot above 40 percent and 40 points in a defensive display.
I was one of the people struggling to keep my eyes on the screen after seeing both teams go back on defense after failing to convert another offensive possession. But a defense game is what defines the Volunteer style of play.Head coach Cuonzo Martin would agree that shooting a dismal 15-of-46 needs to be addressed.
"We didn't get the ball to the middle like we wanted to," said Martin. "For the most part you want to be aggressive."However, Martin is a believer in his system of defense first."
Regardless of how many points you score, if you score 80 points or 37 like they did tonight, you have to hang your hat on the defensive side of the ball.
"The Volunteers need to find out how to penetrate the zone — granted Georgetown's 2-3 zone is one of the best — in order to be a team playing late in the season, but their defense will keep them in any game on the schedule.
Being able to hold a top-20 team to 36.4 percent from the field is an impressive feat.This is one of the better teams the Vols will play during the regular season and the Volunteers had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. It just didn't fall.
Martin said himself, "With a zone you have to go to the perimeter and made some shots and you have to get those post touches and I don't think we did a good job with that.
That didn't happen for UT. Jordan McRae was 3-of-10, Josh Richardson was 1-of-4. It's going to be hard to win anytime your perimeter players aren't hitting against a team as big as Georgetown.
But there is no need to worry. Defense is what the Vols rely on, and in a game where they aren't hitting they can do what they did to Georgetown. Shut down their offense and slow down the game. Keep it close and get a chance at the end.
The Volunteers did exactly that in a game where they didn't have offense. They took a team that they weren't expected to beat down to the final shot. It just didn't happen.