Vanderbilt's John Jenkins 'a tough cover' from 3-point arc

When you're struggling, it seems everybody takes their best shot at you.

That's literally the case for a Tennessee men's basketball team trying to avoid an 0-3 SEC start Saturday when Vanderbilt visits Thompson-Boling Arena.

On Tuesday night, Florida's Chandler Parsons was 4-of-5 from 3-point range. The Gators needed every one of them to get to overtime and win 81-75.

At Arkansas, Rotnei Clarke was 4-of-6 beyond the arc on Saturday. If Clarke had made one fewer trey, a 68-65 Arkansas win would have gone to overtime.

Two games before that, Andrew Goudelock was 6-of-7 from 3-point land in College of Charleston's upset win over the Vols.

It's a trend Vanderbilt's John Jenkins hopes to continue - but one Tennessee needs to nip in the bud.

"He shoots it as well as anybody in college right now. He's a tough cover,'' UT defensive ace Josh Bone said of Jenkins, Vandy's sophomore sharpshooter.

Jenkins is averaging 18.4 points a game and shares the SEC lead in 3-point baskets with Arkansas' Clarke at 45.

Vandy (12-3, 1-1 SEC) challenges the Vols (10-6, 0-2) in a noon tip-off on ESPN, part of the network's College GameDay showcase at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"He's as Chris Lofton-like as anybody I've seen in a while,'' UT coach Bruce Pearl said of Jenkins. "In the sense that he can light it up.''

Jenkins, a 6-foot-4 guard from Station Camp High School outside Nashville, has made four or more treys in six games this year.

He's hitting 40.2 percent of his attempts, which means he's actually cooled off from his freshman season when he sank 48.3 percent of his 3-point tries.

Like Lofton, who set the SEC record for 3-pointers during his UT career (2005-08), Jenkins will pull up in transition and let 'er fly.

How do you defend him?

"Just like playing Lofton in the summer time,'' said UT's Scotty Hopson. "You have to check him just like that.

"Make him drive, make him do things he's not comfortable doing. Make every catch difficult.''

Jenkins is not infallible from behind the arc. He was 2-of-15 against Marquette and a combined 1-of-11 in Vandy's first two games.

"You want to get in his face and crowd him,'' said Bone. "Just stay on him at all times and hopefully he won't get comfortable.''

Who gets the job of infringing on Jenkins' comfort level? Cameron Tatum will be involved, but it's really a team project.

"I don't think you chase him like Rotnei Clarke,'' Pearl said. "But I do think you better be there on the catch.

"You better make him put it on the floor. Because if you're late you're gonna get nailed.

"But Vanderbilt's offense does not allow you to take one guy and just put him on (Jenkins). Their offense is too good.''

In the Zone?: Pearl said some zone defense will be in UT's defensive arsenal the second half of the season. But not Saturday.

"I don't think a zone bothers Vanderbilt,'' he said. "You might see it here and there but it's not going to be the formula to beat Vanderbilt.''

Don't be surprised to see some zone as soon as Tuesday when the Vols go to Georgia.

"When you're getting beat in the second half, why not change things up a little bit,'' Pearl said. "If they're shooting 57 percent against your man(-to-man defense, as Florida did), how much worse can a zone be?''

Fields Starts: John Fields will make a second consecutive start on Saturday, ahead of Brian Williams.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 9

eduardo writes:

Especially when you dont play DEFENSE!!!!

Volborn writes:

Big B Williams can step out on him and lock him down.....

dvols writes:

good player, not enought tatoos for the vols.....

elmoe writes:

We will tatoo their big guy, hold up their screens and
gun them down off the drive.

BigOSammO writes:

This team plays up to the competition and/or hype. Vandy in state rival, picked to win, College Gameday in town, TV face time -- We will come out on fire on O and D and win big. Top 3 team when we want to give the effort and play like it.

crappieking writes:

in response to eduardo:

Especially when you dont play DEFENSE!!!!

+1

volzrock54 writes:

Hell the Hellen Keller School for the blind offers this team a challenge. What is your point?

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

It's true certain players seem to have career days against the vols..Meeks is the first that comes to mind. Another good example is the guard Nobles in the Ark. game..Young player comes in; lights us up and in his next game scores 4 points..Sometimes it's lax defense but 50% of the time it's just a guy having a great shooting night..When one of these 3 point shooters has the hot hand; can't miss game; no amount of defense seems to help

mocsandvolsfan writes:

GBO!!

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