SEC MEN’S BASKETBALL NO. 3 TENNESSEE 106, ARKANSAS 87:

Down, blown out: Vols give Hogs no room to breathe

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Tennessee guard Jordan Bone (0) brings the ball down the court against Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe (1) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Shawn Millsaps)
Tennessee guard Jordan Bone (0) brings the ball down the court against Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe (1) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Shawn Millsaps)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 3 Tennessee is running roughshod over the SEC, and the University of Arkansas was barely a speed bump Tuesday night.

The University of Arkansas, trailing by 30 points early in the second half, bowed out to the hot-shooting Volunteers 106-87 before a crowd of 19,282 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Volunteers (15-1, 4-0 SEC) got separation early and shot a blistering 52.6 percent for the game and 61.1 percent from three-point range.

“I think with a young basketball team coming into this environment, I thought our guys played on their heels,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of Tennessee’s 55-34 lead at the break.

“We were just playing really soft,” said Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe, who scored a game-high 23 points. “We’re not known for playing soft defense, but like I said we’re going to pick it up.”

Tennessee also made a season-best 89.7 percent of its free throws (35 of 39) en route to its highest-scoring game in nine years and its first 100-point game against an SEC opponent since doing it against Florida in 2008.

Arkansas (10-6, 1-3) shot 47.8 percent while dropping its third consecutive SEC game.

UP NEXT at No. 18 Ole Miss, noon Central Saturday, The Pavilion at Ole Miss, Oxford, Miss. (SEC Network)

The Razorbacks’ 19-point losing margin equaled the combined margin of their first five losses.

“We came out and spotted them, and then we played catch up from there,” Anderson said. “But I was proud of the way our guys were fighting in the second half. We outscored them by two. You can say they were up, but they still had their starters in there. They were trying.”

Tennessee had gotten off to a 3-0 SEC start by winning its games by an average margin of 27 points.

“They just beat somebody by 40, I think,” Anderson said. “I think they’re playing really well. Right now, if I’m voting I’m thinking they’re the No. 1 team in the country. What I know about their team and personnel, and obviously Rick has brought them along the right way.”

Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes coming into the game talked about his team not believing the outside noise during the Vols’ fast start, and he hit the postgame locker room with a reminder after Arkansas outscored them 53-51 in the second half.

“I said I’ll be disappointed if you guys aren’t disappointed in the way we played overall, because Arkansas won the game in the second half,” Barnes said. “They beat us.

“I told the guys, ‘I’ve known Mike Anderson too long, and I’ve watched him coach. They’re going to come out driving the ball and attacking.’ You’ve got to give them credit. They came out and won the second half.”

Tennessee’s offensive efficiency was off the charts, and they profited by turning the Hogs over at a frenetic clip. The Volunteers converted 19 Arkansas turnovers into 35 points.

“We turned the ball over too many times,” Anderson said. “I just thought it was experience versus inexperience in this particular game.”

The Vols made 5 of 8 three-point shots in the first half and 6 of 10 in the second half.

Grant Williams, the SEC’s leading scorer, managed 18 points, but that was triggered by 14-of-14 free-throw shooting. Williams was 2 of 7 from the field.

Guard Lamonte Turner came off the bench to lead Tennessee with 21 points, including 3-of-4 three-point shooting and 6 of 6 free throws. Admiral Schofield scored all 17 of his points in the second half. Jordan Bowden added 19 off the bench, including 5-of-6 three-point shooting, and Kyle Alexander had 12 points for the Vols.

Mason Jones had 18 points and 7 rebounds for the Razorbacks, Reggie Chaney added 11 off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting, and Daniel Gafford had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 7 rebounds.

Anderson was asked what the Volunteers did defensively to slow down Gafford.

“He got fouled and they didn’t call it,” Anderson said. “He got knocked around. I mean being physical is one thing, but I thought they got pushed around pretty good. They did a good job of putting bodies on him.”

Tennessee’s scoring came in rapid-fire bursts with a combination of precision passes and dribble penetration.

The Volunteers turned a 6-5 advantage into 20-5 lead in about two-and-a-half minutes. Williams had a spin move on the baseline and got the roll on a short jumper, while Bowden scored five points, and Turner converted two driving layups during the burst.

Arkansas had just one opportunity to hold the lead and could not capitalize. Trailing 4-3, Arkansas’ Jalen Harris rebounded a missed jumper from Schofield. On the other end, Jones used a Gafford screen to get an open look from three-point range but misfired.

Williams cashed in two free throws moments later, and the Volunteers were off and racing.

Tennessee had a pair of 7-0 runs later in the half and led 55-34 at intermission.

The Razorbacks had only three sets of consecutive scores in the opening half, including Joe’s three-pointer and two free throws to make it 25-14, and a pair of layups by Jones late in the half.

Game sketch

RECORDS Arkansas 10-6, 1-3 SEC; Tennessee 15-1, 4-0

STARS Tennessee guard Lamonte Turner 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe 23 points, including 7-of-12 three-point shooting

TURNING POINT Tennessee’s lead ballooned from 6-5 with 15:32 left in the first half to 20-5 with a 14-0 run that ended at 13:05.

KEY STATS The Volunteers shot 61.1 percent from three-point range (11 of 18) and made 35 of 39 free throws (89.7 percent).

UP NEXT The Razorbacks face No. 18 Ole Miss on Saturday at noon in Oxford, Miss.

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.