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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee heads into Southeastern Convention competitors using a successful streak.
Grant Williams scored 25 factors and went 10 of 11 from the ground because the third-ranked Volunteers trounced Tennessee Tech 96-53 on Saturday for his or her seventh straight total victory and 16th consecutive residence win.
It’s the ultimate nonconference tuneup for Tennessee (11-1) earlier than SEC competitors begins subsequent weekend by internet hosting Georgia.
“What we’ve achieved up so far now, you possibly can throw it out as a result of we’re moving into convention play and we all know what sort of grind that’s,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes mentioned.
Tennessee shared the SEC regular-season title with Auburn final 12 months regardless of being picked to complete 13th out of 14 groups.
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The expectations are a lot greater this 12 months.
Tennessee’s solely lack of the season was an 87-81 setback towards No. 5 Kansas within the NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 23. Tennessee hasn’t fallen at residence since a 94-84 loss towards Auburn final season on Jan. 2.
“They’re nearly as good as anyone within the nation,” mentioned Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne, whose crew additionally misplaced to No. Eight Michigan State and No. 14 North Carolina. “You’re not going to discover a crew higher.”
Tennessee believes it nonetheless has loads of room for enchancment.
“We’re a very good offensive crew once we do what we’re presupposed to do, however I feel we have to take that subsequent step defensively as a crew,” mentioned Tennessee’s Jordan Bone, who had 16 factors, 10 assists and just one turnover.
Tennessee’s offense couldn’t have been significantly better Saturday.
The Vols shot a season-high 63.Eight p.c (37 of 58), aided by 12 dunks. Tennessee was capturing above 70 p.c earlier than lacking seven of its final eight makes an attempt.
Admiral Schofield scored 16 factors and shot 7 of 8. John Fulkerson had a career-high 15 factors and shot 6 of seven with 4 dunks.
Jr. Clay scored 16 factors to steer Tennessee Tech (4-9).
Tennessee Tech entered the day having received three of its final 4 video games, however the Golden Eagles continued their street struggles on Saturday. They’ve misplaced all seven of their street video games by a median of 29.Four factors.
The Golden Eagles’ solely single-digit street defeat was a 73-68 loss at Kennesaw State on Dec. 15.
Tennessee Tech: The Golden Eagles executed properly on offense however couldn’t decelerate Tennessee. Then they ran out of fuel and missed 17 of their final 18 photographs. Tennessee Tech is hoping its fortunes will enhance as Malik Martin works his method again to peak kind. The South Florida graduate switch missed the primary 9 video games of the season after present process hand surgical procedure. He shot three of 13 and scored six factors on Saturday.
“He’s our most proficient man,” Payne mentioned. “He’s a man that has the expertise to play in video games like this. Immediately he didn’t appear to be it, however he’s additionally contemporary off an eight-week layoff.”
Tennessee: The Vols had a season-high 12 blocks and matched a season excessive with 10 steals, however these figures are considerably deceptive. Tennessee Tech was capturing over 50 p.c for the sport early within the second half earlier than the Vols turned up their defensive depth. If there’s one concern popping out of this lopsided victory, it’s that Tennessee should play high quality protection for 40 minutes.
Essentially the most encouraging aspect for Tennessee was Fulkerson’s efficiency.
Fulkerson performed properly early in his freshman 12 months however dislocated his proper elbow and fractured his proper wrist in December 2016 and hasn’t been fairly the identical. He additionally underwent surgical procedure to restore a torn labrum in Might 2017.
This recreation was simply the second time Fulkerson scored in double figures because the begin of the 2017-18 season. The 6-foot-9 ahead reacted to his breakthrough efficiency by shifting the eye to his teammates.
“It feels good lastly to see all of the exhausting work that we’ve all put in, simply to see all of our success,” Fulkerson mentioned.
Within the ballot launched Monday, Tennessee was only one level behind Michigan for second place, with Duke at No. 1. Tennessee’s probabilities of shifting as much as the No. 2 spot seemingly rely on how Michigan fares Sunday towards Binghamton.
Tennessee Tech visits Tennessee State on Thursday.
Tennessee hosts Georgia on Saturday.
Observe Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee
Extra AP school basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
The Related Press contributed to this report.
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