In what was supposed to be a tricky matchup for the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, it turned out to be no contest on Tuesday night in Columbia. Frank Martin’s Gamecocks hung around early in the second half, but the Vols buried them in the middle stages of the final period.
South Carolina didn’t have an answer for Jordan Bone, who added 19 points along with nine assists. Bone was nearly flawless on the night, seemingly making every correct decision possible.
After the game, Frank Martin had high praise for Tennessee.
“We tried. Just — they’re too physical,” Martin said. “Like I told you guys earlier in the week, (Tennessee) is relentless at making the right play. We spent two days talking about trying to stop Jordan Bone as early in the possession as we can. We didn’t have a singe guard put up a fight.”
Even without guard Jordan Bowden, Tennessee didn’t find too many problems against South Carolina. The shots were falling for both Bone and Lamonte Turner, while Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams added a combined 47 points.
It turned into a 22 point win for Tennessee, but as Martin points out, the Vols were on the other side of these games just a short time ago. Martin shared a story about what Rick Barnes told him back in 2016 about his point guards following a lopsided 82-55 South Carolina win.
“I remember two years ago they came in here and we had our way with them,” Martin said. “Rick is a dear friend — he’s one of the guys that I respect the most in this business — after the game in the tunnel, all he talked about was I’ve got to get new point guards. Because Jordan Bone and Lamonte Turner, they can’t get it done for me. I’ve got to get new point guards. That’s all he talked about. But Rick, being who he is, he coached them and coached them and those kids didn’t run away from it. Now they’re old and they beat people up. It’s what they do.”
It’s just the latest example of the type of player development going on in Knoxville. The entire team has bought into the staff’s vision. Now this roster, which doesn’t feature a single top 100 ranked recruit, is the No. 1 ranked team in the country and has four legitimate NBA prospects.
Rick Barnes should put a thank you card in the mail today to Frank Martin for the free recruiting pitch.