The Tennessee Vols finished off the week's sweep by beating Kansas State 70-58 in front of 14,398 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.
Following up the upset victory of No. 4-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday, another quality win has firmly put the Vols (12-9) on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Tennessee never trailed its visitors in the Big 12/SEC Challenge matchup and led by as many as 19.
Grant Williams put the Volunteers on his back in the second half where he scored the first eight points of the frame. That allowed the Big Orange to weather the storm where the visitors made five quick 3-pointers after the break. The Wildcats (15-6) were never able to get closer than nine after trailing 39-22 at intermission.
The win lifts the Vols' RPI to 41. Even with a current record that doesn't wow the masses, the RPI and strength of schedule this week, which is top five, has without question put the Vols on the bubble.
Offense: To say this was a team effort would be an understatement. Williams led the Vols with 17 points with a majority coming in a strong second-half performance. Jordan Bowden played well, scoring double figures before intermission and had 13 for the contest. Kyle Alexander made an impact, hitting on 3 of 4 field goals and kept a number of possessions alive off the glass. The Big Orange dominated in the paint, outscoring Kanas State 34-20.
The point guards continue to distribute the ball well with both Jordan Bone and Lamonté Turner having five assists each and only three turnovers combined.
Tennessee shooting 44.8 percent from the floor, including 5 of 14 from 3-point land. The charity stripe wasn't kind to the visitors with them sinking just 13 of 21 (61.9 percent).
Defense: Outside of the first five minutes of the second half where Kansas State made five baskets beyond the arc, Tennessee was stellar on defense. The visitors shot just 39.6 percent for the contest and the Vols were able to score 15 points off turnovers created. It was apparent that Rick Barnes had his team prepared to play as the Big Orange never gave up the advantage and the non-conference matchup featured just one tie.
The Wildcats were never able to get into any rhythm on offense outside of the first minutes following halftime. Their bench totaled nine points.
Rebounding: It is simply amazing what the Orange & White is doing on the glass. The Vols dominated and have refused to use their size disadvantages as an excuse all year.
Tennessee is becoming a team known for toughness and rebounding. That is something no one would have predicted before the season.
The Vols won the rebounding stat 43-29, including 16-7 on the offensive glass. Alexander set the tone early with a number of offensive boards and finished with nine to lead the team. Williams added six and Lew Evans grabbed five. If the rebounding performance Saturday had been a boxing match, the fight would have been stopped as the hosts were the more physical team from the onset. It was a beatdown in this area.