Tennessee squeaked out an ugly 66–61 win over Furman inside Thompson Boling Arena on Wednesday night. The Vols played terribly but they improved to 8–2 on the season, nonetheless.

Here’s a few observations from the game…

Good teams find a way

Tennessee somehow dug deep and found a way to beat Furman on a night when they were WAY off. It was clear from the tip that the Vols were feeling a hangover from their intense, heartbreaking loss to North Carolina. Grant Williams only had two points at the half and nothing seemed to be gelling. But, seemingly out of nowhere, sophomore Jordan Bowden stepped up and took over. Which leads me to point №2…

Jordan Bowden is a big asset

Lamonte Turner came up big in the first few games of the season for UT, but he’s fallen off in recent contests. Thankfully, Jordan Bowden has risen in Turner’s place and shown that he’s a very useful asset for Tennessee. He poured in 21 points, had three assists, and even grabbed six rebounds against the Paladins. Now, the key is to get Turner working alongside Bowden. With more cohesion and consistency, this team can be powerful.

Still plenty to work on in crunch time

Sure, Tennessee won on Wednesday night but they tried to throw the game away. Literally. Within the final minute, Furman turned the ball over, then Admiral Schofield got careless and turned the ball over himself. If not for a serendipitous slip from the Paladins’ point guard on the ensuing possession, this could have been a total disaster. The Vols need to tighten up their play late in games, it’s that simple. They’re sloppy, they get tight, and that leads to losses. Against Furman you can still win without sharp play late in games but it bit UT against a superior team like UNC. Rick Barnes needs to make this a big point for improvement because it’s clear that this squad will be involved in close games often. Get clutch or lose, it’s really that simple.

Tennessee will face Wake Forest on Saturday in Winston Salem, NC at 12:30 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on ESPN2.

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