#10 Vols take down Commodores, 81-61
University of Tennessee
A season-high 16 points from freshman guard Keon Johnson and another solid effort on the defensive end led the 10th-ranked Tennessee basketball team past in-state foe Vanderbilt Saturday.
The win was the Volunteers’ (10-1, 4-1 SEC) seventh consecutive victory over the Commodores (4-6, 0-4 SEC), and their fourth in a row inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
Saturday’s victory also tied Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes with legendary former coaches Phog Allen and Don Haskins for 20th place on the all-time Division I wins list with 719. Barnes ranks seventh in career wins among active head coaches and now has 115 victories at Tennessee.
Johnson’s 16 points were both a team- and season-high, coming on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a near perfect 7-of-8 mark from the free-throw line.
Senior John Fulkerson was among the most efficient players on the floor Saturday, scoring 15 points, knocking down five of his six attempts from the field and grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
Freshman Jaden Springer stuffed the stat sheet, totaling 10 points, a season-high seven rebounds, five assists and a season-high-tying three steals.
Victor Bailey Jr. finished the night with 11 points, nine of which came on three made 3-pointers during the Vols’ early second-half run that stretched the UT lead.
The first half was a tightly contested affair that saw the defenses controlling the flow. While the squads combined to shoot a fairly efficient 37 percent from the field, there were only 10 combined offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points between the sides.
A late push to end the opening half sent the Vols into the locker room with a 34-24 lead.
The start of the second half saw a similar pace to the contest’s opening frame, before the Vols broke things open with a 15-2 run during a four-minute stretch where they knocked down five shots from 3-point range, three of which came from Bailey Jr., to extend the lead to 56-42.
Over the contest’s final 10 minutes, the Vols stifled Vandy on the defensive end and made a number of key buckets to close out the night.
Defense Wins Games: The Vols forced 16 turnovers and nabbed nine steals as a team. Saturday’s 16 forced turnovers marked the 10th time in 11 games the Vols have forced 15 or more turnovers.
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