After a lengthy layoff the Tennessee Volunteers took the court at Thompson Boling Arena and defeated Georgia Tech 81-58 in a stellar team performance.
The Vols jumped out to a halftime lead of 42-25 behind a great defensive effort that rendered the Yellow Jackets shooting a dismal 25 percent from the field in the opening stanza. The offense was well balanced with the eight players entering the scoring column, led by Shembari Phillips' nine points. The Vols also had 10 assists in the first half, a stat that keeps improving for this young basketball team.
The Vols quickly took away any doubt in the game's outcome by taking a commanding lead early in the second half. The Vols cruised to the finish line with an impressive victory over a power five opponent.
Offense: With the Yellow Jackets coming in as one of the nation's leading shot blocking teams, the assumption was that it would be a long day for the young Vols on the inside. The opposite of that happened. The Vols fearlessly went inside to the youngsters John Fulkerson and Grant Williams. Robert Hubbs III was also a factor on the inside, scoring 10 points all on the interior of the defense. Williams and Phillips led the Vols in points with 14. The Vols shared the basketball extremely well with 18 assist, as Phillips led the way with seven. The Vols did have 16 turnovers, but most of those were late when the game became a little sloppy with the outcome decided. The Vols shot 53 percent on the day and a stellar 55 percent of three-pointers. The winners were also magnificent from the free throw line shooting 19 for 24 for 79 percent. It was an excellent day on offense minus a few turnovers.
Defense: The effort this team is putting into the defensive end of the court has been excellent. The energy has been contagious with this team. Graduate transfer Lew Evans found himself in the doghouse with very little playing time in the first five games, but he gave the Vols a boost with solid energy and played well in his first extended playing time for the Vols. This year's version of the Rick Barnes led Vols is much more efficient with the communication needed to play solid defense. The Vols played a great deal of three-quarter court press that bothered the visitors. The press really slowed the pace down and didn't allow Georgia Tech to get into their half court sets until late in the shot clock. The Vols continue to force opponents into a lot of turnovers with the total today being 18. The Vols held the Yellow Jackets to just 33 percent from the field for the contest.
Rebounding: I am not sure this team is ever going to be a force on the boards, but this team is putting forth supreme effort on the glass. Fulkerson is without a doubt the straw that stirs the drink and brings so much energy in the rebounding department. The Vols won the overall rebounding battle 38-31 but were out rebounded on the offensive glass 13-14 . Players having solid efforts on the glass were Williams (6), Evans (5), Phillips (5) and Fulkerson (7). This was another area that Lew Evans played his best game as a Vol in today.