Welcome to the SEC Derek Reese. He just got off shoulder surgery, your team cannot score, your best three point shooter has missed five in a row, and you’re down by at least eight – Time to put an unproven Freshman into his first collegiate game. Sounds like a bad idea, right?
Wrong. Reese returned Cuonzo Martin’s vote of confidence with a couple of clutch three pointers at pivotal points in the game. There were multiple times throughout the game that Tennessee seemed lost on offense, but then Reese’s clutch play came through for the Volunteers in the win over Xavier.
Without Reese the Volunteers would not have won. Zero points from Tennessee’s top scorer Trae Golden until the dying minutes of the game, Skylar McBee having a horrible shooting night, nothing falling for Jordan McRae, and Jarnell Stokes looking lost down low. The addition of Reese off the bench, along with the excellent play of walk-on Brandon Lopez and defensive player Josh Richardson, allowed for an extra offensive burst that allowed for Tennessee to win.
Tennessee will need help from its bench when the offense does not get going. Tennessee has the best defense in the country, but some nights its offense is hot, and other nights the Tennessee offense misses everything. With Jeronne Maymon’s injury taking longer and longer to heal, and the threat of having to redshirt the All-SEC player looms, Tennessee has to find scoring from other areas. Derek Reese is going to be a great SEC player for a long time. Expect to hear his name as one of the best in the SEC next few years.