Heading into this one, everyone was (rightfully) talking about Arkansas’ ability to play fast. Turns out it was Tennessee who was looking to play fast today.
Everything was falling for the Vols early, who started 15-18 from the field and 6-7 from three point range. The early story was Jordan Bone, who couldn’t miss. He hit a couple of three pointers of his own, but paced Tennessee’s offense by slashing through the paint and getting good looks. Admiral Schofield got in on the action, hitting a couple of tough fade-aways from the paint. James Daniel did too, connect on each of his three long range attempts.
Tennessee’s energy was apparent from the opening tip. Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams set the tone defensively with a handful of blocks. Those blocks and steals got Tennessee in transition, creating plenty of easy looks.
Bone ended up scoring 17 points in the first half alone — a truly shocking development considering his struggles that have lingered nearly all season long.
It was a 48-29 lead for Tennessee at the break.
It was a slightly different story in the second half. You knew Tennessee wouldn’t shoot 76 percent again, but the Vols managed to miss three layups in a row at one point. All of this while Arkansas crept back into the picture.
The Hogs closed the Tennessee lead to 11 points by the 15 minute mark of the second half. A clock malfunction came at a fortunate time for the Vols, who were able to get a breather and regroup. Lamonte Turner hit a big three to follow the stoppage.
Bone, Williams and Turner would keep pouring in buckets from there as Tennessee maintained a 15 point lead throughout the middle stages of the second half.
They continued to maintain that lead down the stretch as Arkansas couldn’t get out of their own way. It felt like the Razorbacks were going to make things interesting early in the first half, but Tennessee just kept making shots.
The Vols closed this one out easily, walking away with an 84-66 win.
Tennessee advances to Sunday for the first time since 2009, where they lost to Mississippi State. They will face Kentucky, who they swept for the first time since 1999.
The game is set to tip-off at 1 PM eastern on ESPN.