- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee turned up its defensive intensity to produce a surprisingly lopsided victory over Georgia Tech.

Shembari Phillips and Grant Williams each scored 14 points as Tennessee cruised to an 81-58 triumph over the Yellow Jackets, who hadn’t trailed an opponent by more than eight points all season before Saturday.

“Overall, that’s something we can continue to build on,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said of his team’s defensive effort. “That’s got to really be the staple of who we are.”

Tennessee (3-3) was returning from a nine-day layoff after going 1-2 in the Maui Invitational last week, but it was Georgia Tech that looked like it hadn’t played in over a week. Tennessee stayed in control virtually the entire way and led by as many as 28 points.

Georgia Tech (4-3) played without usual starting guard Justin Moore, who stayed in Atlanta because of a stomach virus. Josh Heath, who made 15 starts in 2015-16, started in Moore’s place and scored just two points while shooting 0 for 7.

“Our mentality has been attack, attack, attack,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “We played ‘un-attack’ today. We played real passive. I was disappointed in our energy level. That falls on my shoulders. Hopefully I can analyze and examine some things and decide what we can do to get better.”

Tennessee was playing its third straight game without Jordan Bone, who has a stress fracture in his left foot. Bone had been Tennessee’s starting point guard before his injury. The Vols also played a third straight game without forward Admiral Schofield due to a violation of team rules.

The Vols overcame the absence of those two guys by getting big contributions from just about everyone who did play.

Williams’ 14 points represented a career high for the freshman forward. Phillips, a natural shooting guard playing point guard for now, had five rebounds and a career-high seven assists with only one turnover.

“I feel like I can play off the ball and I can play on the ball,” Phillips said. “Whatever the team needs at the time… if somebody steps up and (Barnes) feels like they’re doing a better job than me, I’ll move back to the wing. But personally I do enjoy playing the point. I’m going to continue to get better at it every day.”

John Fulkerson scored 12 points and Robert Hubbs III added 10 points for Tennessee.

Quinton Stephens scored 15, Christian Matthews had 14 and Josh Okogie added 11 for Georgia Tech. Ben Lammers had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ offense didn’t look quite the same without Moore, who averages a team-high 4.8 assists per game. Georgia Tech shot a season-low 32.7 percent from the floor and committed a season-high 19 turnovers.

“I thought their athleticism bothered us in some areas,” Pastner said. “We would get to the paint, but we would just throw up a ‘hope’ shot. Hope’s a bad strategy.”

Tennessee: The Vols didn’t look intimidated at all against a Georgia Tech team that entered the day with nine blocks per game to lead all Division I teams. Tennessee shot 52.8 percent from the floor and had only two of its shots blocked.

OVERDUE OFFENSE

Tennessee forward Lew Evans, a Utah State graduate transfer, had seven points, six rebounds and three assists Saturday after failing to score in his first five games with his new team. Evans had averaged 8.4 points per game at Utah State last season.

KEY STAT

Georgia Tech shot 46.2 percent (6 of 13) from 3-point range but just 28.6 percent (12 of 42) from inside the arc. The Yellow Jackets missed 16 of their first 17 two-point attempts.

NEXT UP

Georgia Tech: At VCU on Wednesday.

Tennessee: Hosts Presbyterian on Tuesday.

___

More AP College Basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide