Tennessee sort of did things backwards this year, playing two tough opponents before logging some tune-up games, but hey — things are clearly clicking for Rick Barnes’ squad early on.
Facing Tennessee Tech tonight, it was another opportunity to find some offensive chemistry. Early on, it was Jaden Springer handling scoring duties for the Volunteers. The freshman guard went on a 6-0 run by himself early on, coming off of the bench. Springer then hit another three, and converted through contact at the rim.
His early 11 points powered Tennessee to a 16 point lead midway through the first half. Give some credit to John Pelphrey’s Golden Eagles, however — at least early on. Tennessee Tech hit a couple of open three-pointers and remained competitive on the defensive side, fighting back against the clearly more talented Volunteers. Tennessee Tech whittled the lead down to 12 points with seven minutes to play.
Once again, it was Jaden Springer sparking the Volunteers to find an answer. His steal and coast-to-coast finish extended Tennessee’s lead, which was followed by a tough bucket from Keon Johnson, which was followed by an and-one from John Fulkerson.
Suddenly, Tennessee’s lead was 21 points, and this game was over from a competitive standpoint.
Springer’s breakout game continued, as the freshman went 7-8 from the field to score 17 first half points. Johnson joined the scoring effort late in the half, adding seven points to the cause. Fulkerson was also in double figures already with 11.
Tennessee’s lead at the half was 49-22.
And, well — it got worse. Tennessee stuck their foot on the gas and had no intentions of letting up. Victor Bailey joined the party with a couple of three-pointers and Yves Pons got going down low in the post.
A 19-4 run brought us to the midway point of the second half, with Tennessee’s lead swelling to 78-36. The Volunteers were clearly intent on trying to hit 100 tonight, which they did with a minute left to play.
Tennessee Tech limped to the finish line, taking the loss to the tune of 103-49.
Springer finished as the leading scoring on the night with 21 points, while racking up six assists and six rebounds. Fulkerson added 13 points, while Bailey poured in another 15. Johnson ended with 13 of his own, and Josiah added 15. As a team, Tennessee shot 58 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three-point range.
Tennessee returns to action on Monday night against Saint Joseph’s.