Tennessee defeated Alabama State Wednesday night by the score of 76-41. Seniors, Jordan Bowden & Lamonte Turner, became the 51st & 52nd players in UT basketball history to reach the 1,000 point club as the Vols dominated the Hornets from the tip.
The Vols were able to get the majority of the bench on the floor for meaningful minutes in the second half. And the young guys provided valuable evidence that, with the addition of three top 40 recruits next year, there is much to be excited about in the future.
Knoxville native, Drew Pember, was the most exciting youngin’ to hit the hardwood for the orange & white as he provided great spark as a forward-wing hybrid. He crashed the glass effectively, especially on the offensive side, finishing with 8 points and 5 boards on the night in eight minutes played. His size and ability to move will have him finding more & more minutes in this lineup devoid of a ton of size.
Davonte Gaines & Olivier Nkamhoua provided valuable efforts off the bench as both recorded 6 boards on the evening. Gaines leaked out after a UT steal and showed a little of his athleticism while throwing down a big slam in transition. Nkamhoua played solid defense and showed a few nice post moves, finishing the night with 8 points.
John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, and Josiah Jordan James provided solid games while playing second fiddle to Bowden & Turner for the evening. James finished with a game high 12 rebounds while providing for others all night to the tune of 5 assists. Yves showed his athleticism once again with 11 points and a highlight reel alley-oop slam early in the second half. It was just another day at the office for Fulkerson as he finished with 10 points and 5 boards while holding down the post.
Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden both helped cement their legacies as both surpassed the 1,000 point mark with baskets from the floor. Bowden finished with 16 points on the night, while being lethal from three as usual. Turner finished the evening with 13 points and 6 assists. His average of 9.3 assists a game will take a small hit but will most certainly still be good for best in the SEC. At this point, it’s safe to say these guys are the definitive leaders.
This game was never in question, but these tuneup games always provide valuable insight on the mindset and quality of a team’s bench. Tennessee looks to be very focused early on and it seems like Rick Barnes has officially built a program here in Knoxville. Every night this team hits the floor there is an expectation of quality basketball being played and the team constantly lives up to that.
The media voted Tennessee to finish fifth in the talented SEC. But after UT’s gutsy win over #20 Washington, and dominating lesser opponents, I’m feeling more and more confident this team will surprise some people.
The Vols look forward to a match-up with UTC on Monday.