Tennessee got it done tonight in an exhibition matchup against Eastern New Mexico, winning 107-57. It was a dominant night for the Vols, who were led by both senior guards Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, as expected.
Here’s a few notes from the night.
Eastern New Mexico had Tennessee’s attention from the start, draining three shots from deep to start. An early Volunteer lead was erased as the Greyhounds took the lead at 15-12 in the first half.
Tennessee was rotating heavily at the time, struggling to find any sort of rhythm offensively. Seven turnovers in the first eight minutes plagued the Vols, while Eastern New Mexico took advantage. Devin Pullum did most of the work early on, especially from three-point range.
But Tennessee sparked that offense with a little defense. A block from Yves Pons turned into a three-pointer from Jordan Bowden at the other end. Lamonte Turner hit a three of his own, piggy-backing off of the early work that John Fulkerson did down low.
At the halfway point of the first half, Tennessee had settled in with a 23-17 lead. That was it as far as competitiveness goes for this game.
Coach Barnes emptied the bench early on, putting Davonte Gaines and Josiah James in at the first break. Zach Kent followed on the next break, then Drew Pember and Olivier Nkamhoua followed.
We saw Yves Pons play in the frontcourt tonight fairly successfully. His athletic ability stood out on a couple of rebound attempts as Pons skyed to gain Tennessee possession. We didn’t get a solid indication of what this rotation would look like tonight, especially with Uros Plavsic sitting out and still waiting on clearance from the NCAA.
Turner, Fulkerson, Bowden, James and Pons were the heaviest used players in the first half. Will we see Pember, Nkamhoua and Gaines get as much run against UNC-Asheville? That’s something to watch next week.
Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden are the unquestioned primary options
This isn’t breaking news, but it was certainly backed up tonight after a half of play. Turner in particular looked locked in in his new role, registering four assists and 16 points in the first half. Turner hit 3-4 shots from three-point range, leading the Volunteers in the first half.
Turner ran point for the majority of the first half, but did give way to Josiah James for a three minute stretch.
Bowden started a little slower than Turner, but eventually came to life. He registered three assists in the first half himself, along with 12 points — hitting 2-3 shots from long range.
John Fulkerson was the only other scorer of note in the first 20 minutes, hitting 3-4 shots from the paint to add eight points.
Tennessee pulls away in the second half
An early Turner three, a Fulkerson slam and a couple of buckets from Bowden got the lead out to 29 points at with 13:45 to go in the game. Nkamhoua got involved with a couple of buckets at the rim.
But this was the Turner and Bowden show, as it should be. You can tell that those two have played a lot of basketball together — their chemistry is off the charts. At a couple of points in the game, it felt like it was just them out there.
For the most part, Tennessee maintained a 30-ish point lead throughout the second half. They stretched it out even more late.
Tennessee crushed Eastern New Mexico on the boards and in the assist columns. The Vols put up 24 assists, vs. just four from Eastern New Mexico. Tennessee won the rebounding battle 56-39.
- It was a bit of a bumpy debut for Josiah James, at least scoring-wise. James didn’t look so hot shooting, going 0-3 from three-point range. He did make some noise around the rim though, utilizing his length. His impact was made as a facilitator tonight, racking up seven assists on the night. He ended up with ten points, but there’s plenty of room to grow there.
- Yves Pons found home in the frontcourt tonight, looking good as a hybrid power forward. He didn’t do too much offensively, but he came away with four blocks and made a difference with his athletic ability while rebounding. He ended with five points, five rebounds and five assists. You can expect more of that.
- Drew Pember hopped off the floor with some help late in the game after appearing to turn his ankle.
Turner: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists (3-6 from three)
Bowden: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists (2-5 from three)
Fulkerson: 11 points, 10 rebounds
James: 10 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds
Johnson: 9 points, 4 rebounds
Pons: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks (1-3 from three)
Nkamhoua: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Gaines: 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
Kent: 6 points, 2 rebounds (3-3 from the field)
Pember: 7 points, 3 rebounds (0-2 from three)