The Tennessee Volunteers have passed their first big test of the 2019-20 season.
Rick Barnes’ team headed north to Toronto this afternoon to face the No. 20 Washington Huskies. The result? A 75-62 win.
This one was tied at 5-5 after two minutes of play, but that’s as competitive as it got. Tennessee was powered once again by the hot shooting of senior guard Jordan Bowden, who poured in 15 first half points to establish the Vols’ lead.
Senior point guard Lamonte Turner took a backseat to Bowden as a scorer early, but the offense ran through him. For the second time in as many games, Turner was the main facilitator for Tennessee. He was the engine that powered the offense, leading Tennessee to a 40-28 lead by the halftime break. Turner ended up with eight assists on the day and was helped out by freshman guard Josiah James, who registered five of his own.
The offense, which looked concerning against Murray State, was humming early on. The Volunteers were carving up the Washington zone defense, staying hot — just as they did in the second half against the Racers.
Washington spent the rest of the night playing catch-up. They got the Tennessee lead down to ten points by the midway point of the second half, then down to eight with eight minutes to play. But Tennessee was the aggressor this afternoon, pressing to the rim and getting to the free throw stripe.
The Volunteers went 19-24 from the line, helping secure their ten point advantage for much of the night. Tennessee shot 47 percent from the field, including 46 percent from three-point range. That was enough to overcome losing the battle on the boards to give Tennessee its third win of the season.
Yves Pons keeps it going
Pons has quickly morphed into Tennessee’s third most important player. A hot start to the season continued in Toronto today as Pons went for another 15 points. Yves shot 7-13 from the field, going 1-2 from long range. He added three rebounds and this absolutely vicious block today.
His development is absolutely stunning. This is a guy that had virtually no offensive game last year. Now he’s tracking to be Tennessee’s third leading scorer.
Josiah James flashes
The former five-star guard got off to an understandably slow start, nursing a hip injury back to health. Today, we saw our first flashes of his offensive game. James added nine points against the Huskies, shooting 4-4 from the field. He nailed a three, then added four rebounds and five assists.
This team has an entire new dimension waiting for them once James settles into this system. Today, he just might have started to do that.
Bowden: 18 points, 6 reb, 3 assists
Turner: 16 points, 8 assists, 7 reb, 6 TO
Pons: 15 points, 3 reb
Fulkerson: 14 points, 6 reb, 2 blocks
James: 9 points, 4 reb, 5 assists
Nkamhoua: 3 points, 2 blocks