Tennessee Vols tumble in horrid offensive outing against Wisconsin without Lamonte Turner
But the first game since Turner ended his UT career to have surgery on his long-injured left shoulder was jarring — and the Vols didn’t have nearly enough.
Tennessee turned in a horrid offensive performance against the Badgers, falling 68-48 in front of a somber sellout crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"Believe me, we’ve struggled on offense even with Lamonte," Barnes said. "That has nothing to do with it."
The Vols (8-4) shot 34.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from 3-point range and 52.6 percent from the free-throw line against Wisconsin (7-5).
John Fulkerson and Jalen Johnson had nine points each for Tennessee, which lost for the third time in past four games. It was Tennessee's first home loss by 20 points or more since March 2016.
“It was a big reality check," Johnson said. "It was embarrassing. Our fans definitely deserve more.”
Wisconsin first-half shooting
Wisconsin entered Saturday shooting 22.9 percent from 3-point range away from Madison.
The Badgers had no such issues at Thompson-Boling Arena. Wisconsin blitzed UT in the first half, shooting 7-of-13 from 3-point range.
Guard Brevin Pritzl led Wisconsin with three 3-pointers in the first half, while Tennessee had three as a team and could not generate any consistent offense.
UT got within seven after an Yves Pons bucket and 3-pointer, but Pritzl made two straight threes for a 10-point Badgers lead.
The Badgers scored on a backdoor layup at the buzzer to end the first half, then kept scoring. They scored the first seven points of the second half, while Tennessee was disastrous from the field.
The Vols had only two field goals in the first 12:55 of the half. Fulkerson made a short turnaround jumper after a 7:20 field-goal drought. Olivier Nkamhoua tipped in a Jordan Bowden miss after another lengthy drought.
Johnson made a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes, pulling Tennessee closer after it trailed by as many as 28.
Davonte Gaines, starting guard
Freshman Davonte Gaines started for the first time with Turner out of the lineup.
"I told you guys the other day, normally the defensive side is going to take care of who starts there," Barnes said. "And again, there’s not much divide between he and Jalen.
"He held his own defensively, batting away multiple passes in the first half and recording two steals and a block. He largely looked like the most aggressive Vol on both ends of the floor in a lackluster loss."
Santiago Vescovi arrives
As promised, Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi arrived Saturday. The freshman flew in from Uruguay and got to Knoxville prior to UT hosting the Badgers.
"I don’t think there’s any question he wants to play," Barnes said. "Good Lord is looking out for us. We have a week off here. We have a lot of things to work through. Not just physically but mentally.
"See how much he can do, how long it takes him. We don’t know. I do think he wants to play.”
The No. 183 prospect in the 247Sports Composite for the 2020 class is not yet eligible to play. Whether he plays this season is up to Vescovi, Barnes said Thursday.
Future on hand
The five-star guard, who plays at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, signed with the Vols in November after committing in August. Johnson is the No. 22 prospect nationally in the 247Sports Composite.
Tennessee hosts LSU to open SEC play on Jan. 4 (noon ET, ESPN2/ESPNU).