Tennessee had another tune-up game on Sunday afternoon — one that they had no problems with. The Volunteers handled ETSU with ease, winning by 32 points.
Olivier Nkamhoua was a focal point early on, even with the return of John Fulkerson. Tennessee really worked the post to start the game, and Nkamhoua responded. Back to the basket or simply finishing off a dump-off assist, he was heavily involved in the offensive plan, pushing Tennessee out to an early lead.
Tennessee jumped out to a 26-13 lead, but ETSU made a run of their own to claw back in. The Buccaneers, coached by longtime Rick Barnes assistant Desmond Oliver, did a nice job of fighting back behind the efforts of Jordan King and Ledarrius Brewer.
And then Kennedy Chandler showed up.
The freshman phenom took over the game to close the first half, pouring in three-pointers and plenty of athletic finishes at the basket. There is no fear in his game — he’s a spark plug and he’s already completely transformed how the Tennessee offense goes.
Tennessee took a 46-23 lead into the break.
The Volunteers came out in the second half and kept feeding Nkamhoua, who finished with 23 points. It was the best we’ve seen him look in his career, as he does appear to have taken a big step forward. Nkamhoua also stepped out and hit a couple of three-pointers, which is only going to add stress to opposing defenses.
John Fulkerson logged 22 minutes and scored six points in his return to the lineup, sporting a brace on his injured hand. Fulkerson did lead the team with ten rebounds, edging out Nkamhoua, who had eight.
It was a light day for Justin Powell, who didn’t enter the game until midway through the first half, but he was productive once he found the floor. Powell was 3-4 from deep, continuing to show just how valuable he’s going to be to this team going forward.
Chandler finished with another impressive 16 points while adding six assists and five rebounds.
The Volunteers wrapped this one up to move to 2-0, beating ETSU 94-62. Tennessee now has six days to prepare for No. 4 Villanova, who they’ll face as a part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday. Depending on the result, Tennessee will face Purdue or North Carolina after that.