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Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes praises Jordan Bowden after win over Wake Forest

Big game for Bowden.

NCAA Basketball: Furman at Tennessee Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennessee picked up a nice win over Wake Forest this afternoon, pulling away in the closing stages after facing some adversity in the opening half. A big part of that win today was Jordan Bowden, whose hot shooting allowed Tennessee to put the Demon Deacons away.

Bowden added 17 points today, going 5-5 from three point range. In a game where Tennessee had to have other offensive weapons step up with Grant Williams in foul trouble, Bowden did that and more.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes was impressed with his sophomore guard.

“He’s very quiet in the way he goes about things. He’s our most consistent player. If you watch us practice, he plays the way he practices. We don’t get that from everybody,” Barnes said.

If you know anything about Barnes, you know public praise for individuals doesn’t exactly come all that often. He’s not one to give out compliments when they aren’t deserved.

Barnes praised Bowden’s efforts at both ends of the floor after the win today. “Defensively, you can always put him on the other team’s best player,” Barnes said. “At times he rests on the offensive end so he can play defense.”

With Bowden’s game today, he’s now 26-42 from three point range on the year. That’s a staggering 61 percent from long range. That’s a massive spike from his 31 percent that he shot last season.

Barnes and the Tennessee staff are taking notice.

“We put a play in for him for the first time. We didn’t run it today, but for the first time we put a play in for him. Otherwise everything he gets comes out of our offense. He knows how to work it and pick his spots. We try to tell him to be more aggressive.”

With Bowden averaging just seven shots per contest, Tennessee might just need Bowden to be more aggressive as they head into SEC play. Make no mistake, this offensive attack still runs through Grant Williams as it should, but Bowden is a key piece of the puzzle that is likely being underutilized right now.

And honestly, Tennessee needs a couple of these guards to step up in big spots. We’ve seen flashes of that ability from Bowden, Lamonte Turner, James Daniel and Jordan Bone, but none have been all that consistent with it.

As we’ve seen already this season, Grant can’t do it every game. He’s going to need some help. Maybe a more aggressive Jordan Bowden will turn out to be that help as this young core continues to find themselves.