Offense was optional in the first half for both sides on Monday night in Thompson-Boling Arena. A tune-up game got a little uncomfortable for Tennessee in the middle minutes of the first half as the Volunteers struggled to find any rhythm offensively.
Fortunately for them, Jordan Bowden did what Jordan Bowden does. He paced Tennessee with 11 points in the first half, shooting 5-8 from the field. Lamonte Turner added a couple of three-pointers, making up for a quiet offensive half from Yves Pons, who was only able to add two points to the first half cause.
Chattanooga kept pace for the most part, despite an offensive struggle of their own. By halftime, the Tennessee lead was just ten points.
After a quiet first period, Tennessee found John Fulkerson to open the second half. He delivered with two quick buckets out of the locker room. But the Mocs were able to find buckets of their own, keeping pace once again with Tennessee.
Matt Ryan and David Jean-Baptiste kept Chattanooga within striking distance out of the break. A three from Jonathan Scott cut the lead to just seven points five minutes into the second half.
Lamonte Turner did his best to jumpstart the Tennessee offense though. He hit his 10th assist very early in the second half, along with scoring 10 points. Turner’s court vision has set him apart so far as a senior, playing a very different game than what we are used to seeing. For Turner tonight though, he wasn’t getting a ton of help in the scoring column.
At the under 12 minute mark, Chattanooga forward Matt Ryan picked up his fourth foul — a big blow to the Mocs’ efforts.
Fulkerson kept working down low, picking up his 9th and 10th points of the game to extend the Tennessee lead to 11 with 11 minutes to play.
Ryan re-entered the game with four fouls with eight minutes to play. Tennessee went on a four minute scoring drought while Ryan was on the bench, keeping Chattanooga breathing for the time being.
Fulkerson broke the drought with a couple of free throws with seven minutes to play to bring the lead back to 11. Lamonte Turner hit a three on the next possession to push the lead to 14.
The Tennessee lead was suddenly 56-41 with under four minutes to play.
The bumpy game continued down the stretch for Tennessee. The Vols simply held on in the final few minutes as the Mocs refused to go away. Chattanooga cut the lead back down to ten with two minutes to play. But Yves Pons sent them packing with one final block to essentially end this one.
Lamonte Turner hit two free throws to put this one officially on ice.
It was ugly — it was sleepy — but Tennessee survived. They’ll be back in action on Friday night against Florida State in the Emerald Coast Classic.
Turner: 17 points, 12 ast
Bowden: 13 points, 12 reb, 3 ast
Pons: 5 points, 4 reb, 3 blks
Fulkerson: 14 points, 4 reb
James: 4 points, 10 reb
Johnson: 0 points
Nkamhoua: 5 points, 3 reb
Pember: 0 points
Gaines: 0 points