No. 8 Vols smoke Governors behind ‘most complete effort’

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee freshman forward Tobe Awaka goes up for a first-half layup during Wednesday night’s 86-44 trampling of Austin Peay inside Thompson-Boling Arena.

A rash of upsets that engulfed Southeastern Conference basketball this week did not include Tennessee.

The No. 8 Volunteers made sure of that in a hurry.

Olivier Nkamhoua scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and Santiago Vescovi added 18 on 6-of-8 shooting as the Vols rebounded from last weekend's loss at Arizona by crushing Austin Peay 86-44 Wednesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee's easy win in its last performance before next Wednesday's start to league play at Ole Miss occurred on the heels of Tuesday's trio of surprises at the SEC's expense -- North Alabama over Ole Miss, Drake over Mississippi State and Wofford over Texas A&M.

"I'm really, really proud of our guys, because there have been a lot of teams this week that have let some games get away from them that they shouldn't," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes told the Vol Network. "Our players gave Austin Peay the utmost respect, because they were locked in. We played really well.

"We guarded well, and offensively we were really good. I thought it was far and away the best composure we've had on the offensive end."

Nkamhoua also had five rebounds and five assists, while Vescovi made all five of his 3-point attempts. The Vols (10-2) were 36-of-64 from the floor (56.3%) and 8-of-18 from long range (44.4%).

The Governors (6-7) became the eighth team that failed to score more than 50 points against the Vols this season, shooting just 14-of-55 from the floor (25.5%).

A Nkamhou jumper 20 seconds into the game put the Vols ahead to stay, and a Tobe Awaka layup at the 15:25 mark of the first half made it a 12-2 game. Jahmai Mashack's layup with 11:43 before halftime extended Tennessee's advantage to 20-2, and the Vols wound up cruising to a 52-22 lead at the break.

Tennessee shot 22-of-35 (62.9%) in the first 20 minutes, and the Vols wound up outscoring the Governors 56-12 in the paint.

"Our post guys did do a good job in their interior passing, and the guards did a good job of getting it in there," Barnes said. "This might have been our most complete effort, when you think about it, on both ends."

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