Danny Parker's take
Six Tennessee players in double figures tells me either Rick Barnes is a wizard of offensive improvement from Game 1 to Game 2 or Appalachian State does not own one of the nation’s premier defenses. Either way, the Vols bucketed eight 3s in a 103-94 win Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“I’ve said all along I think we can be a good offensive team,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said.
Ball distribution and shot-making were much improved over the season-opening Chattanooga contest. In the first half alone Tuesday, Tennessee tallied 13 assists and made 17 of 34 from the field. In Game 1, it averaged just one assist every 10 minutes and clanked its way to a 32.8-percent night.
The Vols (1-1) finished with a 26-12 assist-to-turnover ratio, led by Jordan Bone’s eight dimes.
Making 8 of 19 from 3-point land was far and away better than the 1-for-16 effort in the loss to Chattanooga.
The improved basketball led to the Vols carrying a 50-38 advantage into intermission, which would have been a greater difference had the Mountaineers not rallied.
“Obviously that’s not good with momentum going into the lockeroom,” Barnes said.
A Ronshad Shabazz bucket snapped a Vols run of 21 unanswered where the hosts went from trailing by two to up 30-11. Tennessee held the lead from then on.
Tennessee freshman Jordan Bowden knocked down a 3-pointer to give his squad its largest lead at 26 points with 5:00 left in the opening half.
The second half was much of the same with the Vols holding a double-digit lead until late. Kelvin Robinson’s layup with 3:53 to play brought Appalachian State to within 93-82, capping a 13-1 run.
“Being the team that we are right now, we let down. We thought the game was over,” Barnes said.
Things got hairy for the Big Orange when Patrick Good drained a 3 with 58 seconds showing to bring the Mountaineers to within seven.
Kyle Alexander and Lamonté Turner drained four free throws between them to seal it.
This team needs a dominant rim protector. There isn’t one with that potential on the roster and not one in the 2017 signing class. However, Alexander is somewhat starting to learn how to use his length and avoid heavy foul trouble, coming up with a clutch block with 42 seconds to go to preserve a nine-point lead. The problem with Alexander is he isn’t terribly quick getting off the floor.
Graduate transfer Lew Evans needs lessons in geometry, involving the arc of the basketball. It’s possible that was missed after attending now five schools in six years, but he’s going to be far better for this team if he just concentrates on rebounding and being a gnat in the post on defense. Evans would also be great for this squad if he can set an example for freshman John Fulkerson, who doesn’t figure to have an expanded role at any point.
Knoxville native Bowden started “because he’d earned it” and made Barnes look good, sinking half the team’s 3s.
“He can really pass the ball; he’s an excellent passer,” Barnes said. “He’s an offensive-minded player.
“Jordan Bowden, he can score. He can do that…We put him out there for offense.”
Tennessee is off Wednesday before it heads across country to take part in the Maui Jim Invitational. Class schedules mean the Vols won’t all be on the same flight.
They tip off against Wisconsin on Monday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Scott Hall's take
Tennessee recorded its first win of the season and if you like offense you liked this high-scoring matchup versus Appalachian State.
The Vols didn't disappoint on the offensive end. Coming off a performance in the opener with only four assists, the young Volunteers recorded 26. The Vols also took care of the basketball with only 10 turnovers.
The freshmen had a great game in terms of scoring with 53 points. Point guards Jordan Bone and Lamonté Turner scored 22 between them but their most impressive stat was 13 assists with only three turnovers between them. Jordan Bowden showed his long-range shooting ability by making four first-half 3-pointers. Grant Williams also showed up well on the offensive end of the court with 13 points.
Robert Hubbs III was solid with 16 points to lead the Vols in that category. Kyle Alexander showed his continued development but scoring with his back to the basket. He added 13 points along with seven rebounds.
Rick Barnes won’t be happy with the defense. Appalachian State shot 46.2 percent from the field and made 10 3-pointers but that was not the worst of it. The Vols were outrebounded 39-33 but whipped on the offensive boards 17-10.
You can’t give up 17 offensive rebounds. You can’t do that,” Barnes said.
This was a game that should give Vols grave concerns about their ability to defend and rebound well enough to win games in the Southeastern Conference.
If this Tennessee basketball team is going to be in the entertainment business, this was a good start. If winning games against this daunting upcoming schedule is the goal, the Vols need to improve the defense and rebounding quickly.