Raise your hand if you wanted to see the Tennessee Volunteers score 100 points against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
Even though it was a rather large margin of victory, there were many areas that the Vols could have improved in and it showed up in the stat line.
Rick Barnes didn’t hold back when discussing what troubled him the most after UT lost to the Kansas Jayhawks last Friday. The lack of inside presence and too many three-point attempts held the team back and he knew it.
Fast forward five days later and while they still shot too many three-pointers - they finished 8/29 - but at least they won the game this time.
The Colonels gave the Vols some trouble early on, getting out to a quick 5-3 lead thanks to a three-pointer from Dujaunta Weaver. It didn’t get much better after Jordan Bone turned the ball over on the next possession.
But Lamonte Turner was able to steal the ball and all of a sudden Tennessee had a 3-on-1 and Admiral Schofield finished with a layup to tie the game at 5-5 and spark an 8-1 run.
Nick Mayo responded a few possessions later with a wide-open three-point shot and tied the game 11-11. The Vols were able to go on a 8-0 run to push the lead to 19-11, highlighted by a sick one-handed dunk by Kyle Alexander.
It was off a throw-in from Turner. He just lobbed it up perfectly while standing underneath the goal and let the big man do the rest.
The run hit the 13-0 mark before a three from Lachlan Anderson ended it and brought Eastern Kentucky within ten points, 24-14.
Yves Pons came up with a nasty block soon after and the Tennessee defense began to pound the Colonels. They had come up short on their past six possessions up to this point that included two turnovers.
Tennessee had stretched the lead to 36-18, but the Colonels started gaining some momentum after another trey from Weaver.
The Vols shut down any good feelings, however, flexing all their muscle during an outstanding three-part display of dominance.
UT was able to get the ball into transition and the end result was another sweet alley-oop, this time from Bone to Pons. Eastern Kentucky tried to settle the raucous crowd, but Grant Williams blocked his third shot of the game which led to another slam by Jordan Bowden.
Tompson-Boling Arena went into a frenzy and the Vols led, 40-23.
Good defense helped the Vols close out the first half with their largest lead of the game, 49-28.
They started the game 1/7 but finished the first twenty minutes with an 18/37 (48.6%) mark. Barnes probably wasn’t very happy with the fact they took 17 shots from behind the arc based off his comments after the Kansas game, but Tennessee had a 21-point lead, so maybe it wasn’t too bad.
Tennessee basically doubled up the Colonels’ rebound efforts, evidenced by the 33-17 stat line. They also had a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio, but shot just 57.6% from the free throw line.
The star of the first half had to be Pons. He easily played the best half of his budding career and finished the first half with eight points, three rebounds, an assist, and a block.
#Vols 40, EKU 23 | 1H, 3:59— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) November 29, 2018
In his first career start, sophomore wing @Airpons is putting on a show. He's got eight points, three rebounds, one assist and a block in 11 minutes of action.
The Colonels’ Peyton Broughton nailed a three to start the second half, but Alexander showed him up just a few plays later with another dunk. He was fouled going up and hit the free throw to complete the trifecta.
Mayo answered back with a dunk of his own, but Admiral Schofield just had to show him up and gave the Vols the biggest lead of the night at the time, 58-35.
A scary sequence happened soon afterward as Grant Williams looked to be in pain as he hunched over on the court, but he was able to get up and resume playing.
Lob City continued to reside in TBA after Bone found Pons again for another oop just to rub it in a little more.
Tennessee went on to outscore Eastern Kentucky 30-20 over the last 11 minutes of the game. The final score of 95-67 seemed a bit more distant than it looked considering both teams had pulled their best players with about 4 minutes left to play.
Tennessee improved their free throw percentage to 72% for the game and outrebounded the Colonels 50-32. Williams led the Vols with 21 points and and added 11 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. Nick Mayo led the Colonels with 23 points and nine rebounds. Both players combined for 19/19 from the foul line.
Where the Vols struggled was with turnovers and three-point shooting. They finished with 16 turnovers and shot just a bit over 25% from three on the night.
The win puts the Vols at 5-1 on the season. They will play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday, December 2nd. Tip-off is set for 12EST.