No. 6 Tennessee trounces Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 79-51
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — No. 6 Tennessee prepared for its showdown with Gonzaga by posting its second straight lopsided victory at home.
Grant Williams finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for Tennessee (6-1) in its last tuneup before a Dec. 9 matchup with No. 1 Gonzaga in the Jerry Colangelo Classic at Phoenix. Jordan Bowden also scored 14 points.
“We’re going to go in there ready,” Alexander said of the Gonzaga game. “We’re going to use this week wisely. It’s going to be a mental week for us. We’re definitely going to have to work on some things.”
With a roster dominated by upperclassmen, Tennessee had enough experience to avoid overlooking its two home dates that followed an overtime loss to No. 2 Kansas and preceded its date with Gonzaga.
Tennessee trounced Eastern Kentucky 95-67 on Wednesday before its blowout against Texas A&M-CC.
“It wasn’t tough at all to focus on these two games,” Schofield said. “We scheduled them. We’ve got to win them.”
Texas A&M-CC (4-4) led 15-8 before Tennessee pulled ahead for good by going on a 14-0 run that lasted just over six minutes. Tennessee outscored Texas A&M-CC 26-4 over the last 12 minutes of the first half to grab a 34-19 lead at the break.
Texas A&M-CC coach Willis Wilson said the Islanders‘ offense struggled once their ball movement slowed down and they stopped working the ball inside as often.
“We just have this tendency to kind of get away from what works for us,” Wilson said. “When we do it, we’re very good and we do it well. When we get away from it, we really fall off considerably.”
Myles Smith scored 16 points for Texas A&M-CC, which shot just 32.2 percent from the floor.
Smith scored the Islanders’ first 12 points of the second half. He sank a trio of 3-pointers in the first 4 1/2 minutes to reduce Tennessee’s lead to 41-30 with 15:35 remaining, but the Islanders’ rally fizzled from there.
Texas A&M-CC: Smith simply didn’t get enough help, with none of his teammates scoring more than seven points. Tony Lewis began the day averaging 10.3 points, but he missed all six of his shots to go scoreless.
Tennessee: Yves Pons replaced Bowden in Tennessee’s starting lineup Wednesday and provided 10 points and an energy boost against Eastern Kentucky. Pons was back in the lineup with Bowden coming off the bench Sunday, but Bowden had the better performance of the two. Bowden had a season-high 14 points in 24 minutes. Pons had two points and five turnovers in 16 minutes.
“When I saw Yves was starting, I was like, ‘All right, that’s fine, I have to bring the energy off the bench he did when he wasn’t starting,'” Bowden said. “I just tried to be happy and positive instead of sulking.”
Tennessee played without guard Lamonte’ Turner, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. The same issue caused him to miss the Vols’ first three games of the season.
Turner has played three games this year and is averaging 10 points, but he is shooting just 26.5 percent.
“The way he played those last two games, he couldn’t help us playing like that,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We said, ‘If your shoulder’s bothering you, we’re going to have to get it right.'”
Tennessee guard Jordan Bone scored only seven points and shot 1 of 6 from the floor, but he also had a career-high 10 assists with only one turnover.
Tennessee figures to remain at No. 6 since none of the teams in the top five lost.
Texas A&M-CC hosts Texas State on Wednesday.
Tennessee faces No. 1 Gonzaga next Sunday in the Jerry Colangelo Classic at Phoenix.