Tennessee overcame a 15-point first-half deficit in a 92-77 win over visiting Lipscomb behind 30 points by freshman Grant Williams and moved to 6-4 on the season. Williams was 10 for 12 from the field and added six rebounds.
Robert Hubbs III continued his hot streak with the first double-double of his career with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Vols trailed 58-43 just before the half but finished on a 6-0 spirt to cut the lead to nine at the break. That run continued into the second half where the Vols took the lead for good 61-60.
For the second straight game Rick Barnes' bunch played one stanza at a high level and another poorly on the defensive end of the court. This win didn't come without a price though as standout freshman John Fulkerson left the game in what appeared to be a serious elbow/arm injury in the first half.
Offense: The Vols played well on the offensive end all Thursday night. While the Big Orange found themselves behind by nine at half, the offense was not the problem with 49 points scored. Tennessee protected the ball better than the previous couple of games with 12 turnovers. Barnes told the team midway through the first half that he wanted the offense to flow through Williams and he did not disappoint. The youngster was unstoppable in the paint.
With injuries to Fulkerson and Admiral Schofield, it was the perfect time for Lew Evans to play well. He did so with nine points. Detrick Mostella contributed 11 off the bench on 4-of-9 shooting.
The negative part of the offense was the point-guard play. Shembari Phillips and Lamonté Turner had tough games. Hubbs played a little bit of point guard. Freshman point Kwe Parker didn't attempt a field goal and missed 2 of 3 free throws but pieced in three rebounds and no turnovers in 12 minutes of action.
Mostella was 2 of 4 from behind the arc with the team making 4 of 11.
Overall it was a solid performance on offense from start to finish.
Defense: In the first half the Tennessee defense looked more like it was playing a NBA preseason game. An F wouldn't have been low enough of a grade for that part of Thursday night's performance. Lipscomb shot 63 percent from the field (20 of 32) and 61 percent from 3-point range while racing out to 58 first-half points. At one point in the half the Bisons were 9 of 13 from downtown and 15 of 19 overall. To be kind it was a pathetic effort by the home team in the first half.
The Big Orange turned up the energy the second holding the visitors to only 19 points. The inconsistency of the defense is sure to get the Vols beat with the easier part of the schedule over. It would easier to grade this game in halves but overall even with the excellent defense played after halftime it is hard to be happy with how poorly the Vols played in the first 20 minutes.
Rebounding: For the second straight game it was a solid effort on the boards for the Big Orange. The Vols won the stat 41-29. Hubbs and Mostella are developing into solid rebounders and that is going to be needed as Barnes appears to be evolving into playing more of the smaller lineup and may be forced to with tonight's injury to Fulkerson. Hubbs and Mostella combined for 17 boards. Williams (6) and Evans (5) also did a solid job on the boards. The injuries along with an undersized roster to begin with makes this an area to follow and Gonzaga will be a huge test in Nashville on Sunday.