On the Saturday before Christmas, it doesn’t take much imagination to guess what Rick Barnes and the Tennessee Volunteers want for Christmas.
Grant Williams made sure to deliver plenty of points, rebounds, and physical play while Kyle Alexander played arguably his best game of the season.
It was another big night from Williams. He was on fire throughout the entire afternoon and was already in double digits scoring-wise within the first twelve minutes of game.
The game started off with a Tennessee turnover and then a subsequent three-pointer by Childress to put the Demon Deacons on the board first, 3-0.
But the Vols were able to answer back with an 8-0 run before a three from Wake Forest’s Chauncee Brown ended it and cut the lead to 8-6. Physical play, offensive rebounding, and Brown helped Wake Forest overcome the early run and tie the game, 8-8.
Both teams battled back and forth for a few minutes, resulting in a 12-12 tie early on. Tennessee was facing a three minute scoring drought before an incredible dunk by Grant Williams broke the tie and gave the Vols the lead, 14-12.
Wake Forest was able to regain the lead on an and-one after Sharone Wright Jr. was fouled after making a basket. But it didn’t last long because Tennessee’s Jalen Johnson clapped right back with a three of his own to put the Vols right back in the lead, 17-15.
Brown continued his excellent first-half play, scoring another bucket immediately on the next possession to tie it at 17.
Admiral Schofield finally got himself a bucket and Williams was all silk as he nailed a jumper from down low over the 6-foot-11 Ikenna Smart. He was able to also notch a foul and hit the free throw to complete the three-point play and extend UT’s lead to 22-19.
Williams completed his third three-point play of the game several possessions later that sparked a 10-2 run with a few minutes left in the first half.
Wake Forest tried to battle back, but it was too much. Tennessee closed the half on a 20-9 run and led 42-30 after the first twenty minutes.
The Vols shot around 48% from the field compared to Wake’s 37%. Tennessee was a very impressive 9/9 from the charity stripe and outrebounded the Deacons 18-16.
But Williams was the first half’s biggest difference-maker. He led all scorers for both teams with 17 points and trailed only Kyle Alexander in rebounds (5 to 6).
UT also had 20 points in the paint and it was obvious that the key to the game was scoring in the post.
The duo of Schofield and Alexander put Tennessee on a 14-5 run within the first five minutes of the second half. The lead was now 56-35. The 21-point margin was the largest of the game.
Schofield continued his second-half resurgence, scoring eight of the team’s first 16 points. The 21-point deficit soon turned into a 25-point deficit and Wake Forest’s confidence turned into mush. Tennessee led 64-39 with a little over 11:00 to play.
The Demon Deacons needed a Christmas miracle if they wanted to leave Knoxville with a win.
The rough shooting night continued for the visiting team and was a major reason why the Volunteer lead remained so large. Tennessee didn’t even need Grant Williams in the second half. He didn’t score a point until there was less than 8:00 left in the game.
The lead stretched all the way to 73-46 at one point, but an 9-0 run by Wake cut the lead to 18 before Tennessee’s Bone sliced through the defense for the easy lay up to put the Vols back up by 20, 75-55.
Tennessee was able to hold Wake Forest at bay for the remainder of the game and won by a final score of 83-64.
Grant Williams led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds. The Vols are now 10-1 on the season.