Tennessee cruised to a victory over the visiting Missouri Tigers 90-70. The win was a must as the Vols continue to have aspirations of dancing in March.
With the win the Big Orange moves to 15-12 on the season and evened their mark in SEC play 7-7.
Tennessee jumped out quickly to a 16-3 and enjoyed their biggest lead of the first half at 33-15 only to see the Tigers go on a 11-0 run. That run cut the lead to seven at 33-26 but that momentum changed with just one possession. Lamonte Tuner hit a 3-point basket with 2:02 to play in the opening stanza and during the shot Grant Williams was fouled fighting for rebounding position which allowed the Vols to stretch the lead back to 12 in just one trip down the floor.
The Big Orange had the hot hand from outside the arc making 5 of 9 in the first half which resulted in the 41-28 halftime score.
The game was really never in doubt as the Tigers could never get closer than 10 after intermission.
Tennessee had its biggest lead at 76-53 with with 7:03 to play.
The Vols take on in-state rivals Vanderbilt Wednesday night in a key contest with significant NCAA implications on the line as Rick Barnes continues to see his team seesaw back and forth on the right and wrong side of the bubble.
Offense: Tennessee saw its offense play extremely efficiently in this game making 47 percent of its shot with only nine turnovers.
The Vols were led by Williams, who continues to have a stellar freshman campaign, with 25 points. Free throw shooting had been an area of mediocrity for the star in the making but he made 12 of 13 attempts.
Robert Hubbs IIl added 21 while Admiral Schofield poured in 17.
While committing single digit turnovers, the Big Orange dished out 19 assist. That stat is bound to please Barnes after the previous performance in Lexington on Tuesday.
Defense: The Big Orange played extremely well in the first ten minutes on defense as the Tigers scored just three points in the first 8 minutes of the contest.
After the excellent start, Missouri was able to score at times with ease scoring 62 minutes over the course of the game.
Rick Barnes employed a 3/4 trapping zone for portions of the first half that slowed the Tigers down getting into their offense that allowed the Vols to build the lead.
With the game out of hand in the second half the defensive intensity did decrease as the visitors were able to finish the game shooting 40 percent from the floor making seven three pointers.
Rebounding: It has been a number of games since the Vols have won the rebounding battle but that changed in this contest as the Big Orange won the overall battle 38 to 30 and the offensive glass 11 to 8.
Tennessee was led on the boards by Robert Hubbs III with eight.
Kyle Alexander continues to be a factor on the glass for Rick Barnes especially on the offensive end. He added six on the day.
Williams performed right at his average with five.