Tennessee men 79, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 51: Three observations

Tennessee men 79, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 51: Three observations

December 2nd, 2018 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Tre Gray, center, tries to dribble past Tennessee's Jordan Bowden, left, and Admiral Schofield during Sunday's game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — In its final tuneup before facing top-ranked Gonzaga next week in Phoenix, the sixth-ranked Tennessee men's basketball team beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 79-51 Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

After a sluggish start, Tennessee (6-1) put together a 26-4 run in the first half, holding the Islanders (4-4) to a pair of field goals over the final 12:02 of the period to build a 34-19 lead at the break.

The Vols shot 53.1 percent from the field for the game, dominating inside by scoring 30 points in the paint. Admiral Schofield had 16 points to lead four Vols who scored in double figures. Jordan Bowden and Grant Williams had 14 each, with Williams adding nine rebounds and four assists. Kyle Alexander chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.

Jordan Bone continued his solid play at point guard, with seven points and a collegiate career-high 10 assists — and just one turnover.

Here are three observations from the win:

Just getting through

Early on, the Vols appeared lost against the Islanders' four-out offense, which allowed the visitors to jump out to a 15-8 lead with a trio of open 3-pointers. Perimeter defense has been a problem at times for the Vols, and the early going didn't do much to discourage that narrative. It was similar in the second half, which allowed the Islanders to cut the lead to 11 before Tennessee was able to exert its dominance and pull away on both occasions.

Bone in control

The Vols' 6-foot-3 junior has been in control of the offense for a few games now, and Sunday was no different. Bone didn't let his shooting struggles (1-for-6) affect the rest of his game, adding a pair of steals to his assists total and having complete command of what the Vols were doing.

Getting guys going

It was almost as if the Vols made a concerted effort to get Alexander and Bowden going, giving the two as many good looks at the basket as possible. Bowden's 14 points mark his season high, while Alexander's 12 were his most since the Vols' third game of the season, a 66-53 home win against Georgia Tech on Nov. 13. As the season goes on, Tennessee is going to need players such as those two to make contributions, and Sunday's game at least gave the impression they could do so.

This is developing coverage. For more, check back later and see Monday's Times Free Press.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.