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Men’s Basketball: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs Tennessee Volunteers Recap: Vols Smoke Cajuns, 87-65

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The young season has gotten off to a very good start

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette at Tennessee
Jordan Bowden has played great in place of Lamonte Turner
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Even though they’re not the Kansas Jayhawks, the Duke Blue Devils - hell, even the Kentucky Wildcats - the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns were a NIT Tournament team last season.

That in itself made Friday night’s victory for the Vols all the more impressive as Grant Williams hung 31 points en route to a 20+ point victory.

Just as expected, both offenses got off to a great start as soon as the game began. Admiral Schofield scored the first bucket of the game, but an aggressive Louisiana team was able to pick up two quick baskets and led early, 4-2.

Both teams continued to score at rapid pace, recording a hefty 20 combined points in the first four minutes of the opening half. The Cajuns doubled their lead at one point, leading 10-6, but a great off-balance shot by the Vols’ Jordan Bone cut the lead in half.

Williams tied the game at 10 just a couple of plays later, but a deep three-point shot by Cedric Russell pushed Louisiana back in front, 13-10.

Little did they know, however, it would be the last time they led for the rest of the game.

Bone came through again, nailing a three-pointer to square the game up at 13. Tennessee was digging into a rhythm that would soon help show why this team is ranked as the sixth best team in the nation.

Williams seemed to agree as he placed himself on the receiving end of a beautiful alley-oop to give the Vols their first lead of the game. One of the Cajun defenders fouled Williams on his way up to the basket, giving him an and-1 opportunity.

Williams hit the free throw and the Vols pushed their lead to three, 16-13.

Excellent all-around play on defense and a strong post presence helped the Vols go on a 23-4 run at one point in the first half. UT’s length on defense was a big catalyst as to why the Cajuns’ offense struggled so mightily during that stretch.

There was a quick scare when Williams laid on the floor after attempting a dunk. He looked pretty hurt, but recovered quickly and came back in to play without any noticeable injuries.

All worries were completely wiped from the minds of Vols fans everywhere after he landed a sick dunk that gave Tennessee their biggest lead of the first half, 48-27.

Louisiana was able to work up a small run, however, and the Vols closed the first half with a score of 48-31.

The offense continued to pour in for both teams once play resumed in the second half. Cajun mobster Malik Marquetti took the first two shot attempts - both three-pointers - of the half for his team and struck both of them with ease to close the gap, 50-37.

But the Vols continued to keep their opponent at arms’ distance while Williams led the charge. With 13:50 to go in the second half, Tennessee was shooting over 56% from the floor. Williams’ second three-point shot of the game also gave him 23 points for the night and was the final dagger for the Cajuns.

The rout officially on after another three-pointer, this time from Jordan Bowden, put the Vols back up by 19 as Louisiana began to fade from Thompson-Boling Arena.

It got even worse as their best offensive player, Jakeenan Grant fouled out of the game with just over four minutes left to play. The added insult to injury came with an 18-point Volunteer lead, so it’s not like his exit had some dire effect on the game.

It definitely didn’t have a dire effect on the Cajuns’ attitude nor effort. Despite facing a consistent double-digit lead, they continued to fight as the minutes wore off the clock.

But in the end, the admirable effort came up short. Very short. Like 22 points short in an 87-65 loss.

Williams’ 31 points came on 11/15 shooting and he was able to grab 10 rebounds as well. Five players finished with 10 points or more as the team shot an extremely efficient 54% from the floor.

The 22-point victory moves Tennessee to (2-0) on the young season. They play Georgia Tech on Tuesday, November 13th in Thompson-Boling Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 9PM EST.