WASHINGTON — One after another Friday, Tennessee men's basketball players and coaches repeated the same refrain.
Georgetown is very long. Georgetown's zone defense is very frustrating. No other team on the schedule will be like Georgetown.
That last snippet is the good news. After spending 40 minutes in offensive purgatory at the Verizon Center, the Vols had little interest in a rematch with the Hoyas or anyone like them.
A Naismith-offending 37-36 loss was the result of those 40 minutes.
Question marks are a result of that loss.
The Tennessee defense gave the best performance coach Cuonzo Martin could hope for. The offense, meanwhile, was about as inept as he could fathom.
"It's one of those deals where I don't know if it's frustrating because the reality of it is, we're missing (Jeronne Maymon)," Martin said by phone Saturday.
As they will be for the foreseeable future. Maymon's injured knee is nowhere close to allowing him to return to the floor.
So with a defense that's smothering and an offense that's staggering, Martin and the Vols will try to find a solution.
What they will most certainly see, is more zone defenses. While few teams can replicate the size, length and athleticism presented by Georgetown, any team can play zone and at least force Tennessee (4-2) to play its zone offense.
That, as of now, is an issue.
Don't think for a minute Virginia (5-2), Wednesday night's opponent, hasn't taken notice.
Time and again Friday, the Vols found themselves with 10 or 15 seconds left on the shot clock and nothing developing offensively. Desperation jumpers flew. Turnovers were made. Forced shots were the norm.
To complicate matters, when UT did get open jump shots, they didn't fall.
"The zone shifts with you as you move the ball so if you flash and cut and move, it's hard to guard," Martin said. "But at the end of the day, if you aren't making shots against the zone, it doesn't matter. They'll stay in the zone from start to finish."
Martin loves to say that defending at a high level can keep any team in a game. It's a moot point, though, if the team's offense can't capitalize on even the greatest of defensive efforts.
Friday night was Tennessee's best defensive performance since holding Penn State to 33 points in regulation back in the 1996-97 season. That Penn State team finished the year 10-17. Suffice to say holding the 2012-13 Georgetown team to 37 points carries some more weight.
The Vols still lost.
Since being undone in a 62-45 loss to Oklahoma State, UT has held three straight opponents under 37 percent shooting.
Georgetown, which entered Friday shooting 50.4 percent through five games, finished 16-for-44 (36.4 percent) from the field. Through six games, the Vols are holding opponents to a meager 58.8 points per game. It's impressive, but the flipside says the team's offense ranks 229th out of 347 Division I teams with 65.3 points per game.
Asked if more practice time would be spent addressing offensive shortcomings, Martin said UT will stay the course.
"On the surface we're a defensive-minded team, but we spend just as much time on offense, offensive breakdowns and offensive skills," he responded.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn