CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — In reality, four days passed between games. But it seemed like one interminable 80-minute struggle for Tennessee's offensively challenged Vols, this misadventure into colonial America.
A 46-38 loss to Virginia on Wednesday night was a continuation of a 37-36 loss to Georgetown last Friday in Washington.
I tried to distinguish one from the other.
Georgetown thwarted the Vols with a smothering zone defense. Virginia thwarted the Vols man-to-man.
Georgetown is in the Big East Conference, Virginia the ACC.
Georgetown is located in the city where Thomas Jefferson sat as president of the United States.
Virginia is the campus Mr. Jefferson founded.
That's all I've got. UT coach Cuonzo Martin's more keenly trained eye saw one more difference.
"I thought we were stagnant at Georgetown,'' Martin said. "Tonight, I thought we had some pretty good looks that just didn't go down.''
Not much of anything is going down for Tennessee these days. Perhaps it's a good thing the fan base is preoccupied with a football coaching search. (Not much is going down there either.)
It seems more urgent to anguish over the inability to find a football savior than a basketball team that has scored a combined 74 points in two games.
The Vols have fallen short of 40 points three times in the shot-clock era (1985-86). Two of them were in the past week.
To be fair, both Georgetown and Virginia are grinders. Not many opponents are going to run up a score on either one of these guys.
"We keep trying,'' said coach Tony Bennett, "to define what Virginia basketball is going to look like.''
Are you beginning to doubt about what Tennessee basketball is going to look like?
Martin did a terrific job defining a new look in his first season — a patient, motion offense and never-give-an-inch defense.
It worked. Tennessee was a surprising 10-6 in the SEC. The Vols averaged 68.8 points a game.
Which is about 30 more than UT averaged on these two road games.
UT shot bricks at Georgetown but still would have won had it not been for unthinkable 3-of-11 free-throw shooting. Two free throws would have been the difference in a one-possession game.
This one was never a one-possession game. But it could have been, should have been.
"Your defense can hang in only so long when you're struggling to score.''
That was Bennett talking but it certainly applied to Tennessee, who squandered another commendable defensive effort Wednesday night.
Back to defining Tennessee basketball: surely it won't be a surrounded Jarnell Stokes attempting only three shots at Georgetown or five at Virginia.
The preferred definition was Stokes AND Jeronne Maymon as a double whammy in the paint. Maymon is on the shelf with a bum knee, his return date unknown.
"He's a guy that also demands a double,'' said Martin. "… so now Jarnell can float a little bit when he's posting up.
"Here's a guy who is sort of the quarterback on the defensive side and a point-forward on offense. You lose a guy of that caliber and obviously some adjustments have to be made.''
Obviously. The Vols just scored 36 points and followed it up with 38.