The Texas Tech Men’s basketball team defeated No. 13 Tennessee by a score of 57-52 in a Tuesday night match-up in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd in New York, improving their record this season to 7-1 after they had to extend the first game of the 2021 Jimmy V Classic into overtime to defeat the Volunteers.
Coming off their first loss of the season and forced to play their first ranked opponent of the season under the bright lights at MSG, the Red Raiders defeated Tennessee in a strong defensive performance that saw both teams held to season-low scoring totals.
Tennessee’s 52 points were only one fewer than how many they scored in a 53-71 on Nov. 21 in a loss to Villanova. who is currently the No. 6 ranked team in the nation and defeated Syracuse by a score of 67-53 in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic.
Tech was leading by a score of 44-41 with 35 seconds left in the game, and they had kept the Volunteers from shooting a successful field goal for ten straight minutes when Tennessee’s junior guard Josiah-Jordan James made his first three-pointer of the game after missing his first seven.
According to UT Sports, the Volunteers set season-lows in every shooting percentage category possible, going 19-71 from the field (26.8%), 6-16 from the free throw line (50%) and 6-40 from three (15%).
Tech almost did the same after a similar tough day shooting, setting season lows after making just 19 of 61 (31.1%) of their attempts from the field and going 4-24 (31.1%) from behind the arc.
Tech's worst game from the free-throw line was on Nov. 15 against Prairie View when they made just 12 of 22 attempts for a rate of 54.5 percent. Tech would have gone 12 of 22 again if not for Batcho and Shannon making the last three free-throw attempts against Tennessee, all coming in the last 20 second of the game.
The Red Raiders were able to make up for their shooting inefficiency by dominating the boards, recording a season-high 54 total rebounds in the win, according to Tech Athletics.
With Shannon, McCullar, and Batcho all reaching double-digits in rebounds, it was the first game Tech has played this season that saw three players on either team surpass more than nine.
Tennessee started the game against Tech as the SEC’s third best three-point shooting team with a rate of 36.2 percent so far this season .After playing the Red Raiders, that figure fell to 32.4 percent, which would have been the ninth best rate in the conference entering the game, according to SEC Sports.
Kennedy Chandler entered the game as the Volunteers leaders in scoring (16.1 points-per-game), assists (4.7 per game) and steals (2.4 per game) All of these figures ranked in the top six among South Eastern Conference players entering the Jimmy V Classic, according to SEC Sports.
Despite playing a team-high 41 minutes against Tech, the Red Raiders kept Chandler from scoring for the first 11 minutes of the game and held him to nine points on 1-5 shooting from behind the arc and forced him into a season-high five turnovers, according to UT Sports.
Tech had three starters play 42 minutes against Volunteers in junior guard Terrence Shannon Jr, redshirt-junior guard Kevin McCullar, and senior forward Kevin Obanor. Despite the trio playing the most minutes in a game this season, Shannon and Obanor scored double-digits and McCullar hauled in ten rebounds to go along with his eight points.
After his involvement in the 2021 NBA Draft but eventual return to Tech, Shannon missed multiple games this season as Tech reviewed his eligibility.
Coming off a loss against his first ranked opponent of the season, Shannon had an opportunity to improve his draft stock with a strong performance at Madison Square Garden in a national-televised game.
Shannon capitalized on this opportunity, recording a double-double with a season-high 12 rebounds and a season-high-tying 18 points in 42 minutes.
However, Shannon missed all five of his shot attempts from behind the arc and only had one point in the second half after leading the game with 11 at halftime.
Shannon responded to his low-scoring second half by coming out with his foot on the gas in overtime. After missing the first shot since regulation ended, Shannon turned an Obanor steal into a successful running floater on the other end.
With just under three minutes left in overtime, McCullar found fellow starter Davion Warren for an inside bucket and his fifth assist, a figure that led the team after the Red Raiders didn’t record another assist in overtime.
After Warren’s dunk put Tech up 48-44, Shannon knocked down a pull up jumper from the elbow to put Tech up 50-44 with just over two minutes left in the game and practically sealing their fate.
Tennessee was able to keep the game close through the last minute of overtime with two made three-pointers in the last 40 seconds, but Tech maintained their lead thanks to late-game free throws and strong defensive effort highlighted by a Batcho block on Tennessee’s Kennedy with 1:22 left in the game.
Batcho hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds against Tennessee for his second game of the season with double-digit rebounds. Batcho played 27 minutes, 11 more than his previous season-high 16 minutes against Omaha on Nov. 23.
It was almost immediately noticeable that this game would be nothing like Tech’s last game, their first loss of the season after falling to Providence by a score of 72-68 in the 2021 Big 12-Big East Challenge.
According to Tech Athletics, Tech committed a season-high 29 fouls in their loss to Providence. Against Tennessee, it took over six minutes for Tech to be called for their first foul (Batcho) and the Red Raiders finished the game with only 12 fouls to set a new season-low.
On the other side, Tennessee committed a season-high 22 fouls in the loss to Tech. Four Volunteers got into foul trouble with four fouls each, all of which ranking in the top five among their teammates in minutes, according to UT Sports.
Tech's head basketball coach Mark Adams and the Red Raiders had to make a lot of adjustments after their first loss of the season, including cutting back on fouls and improving on their rebounding success.
Now they’ll look to further build on these adjustments when they play their next game on Tuesday, Dec. 14 when they host Arkansas State for their last game before a Dec. 18 matchup against No. 5 Gonzaga.