Tuesday, Tennessee basketball faced off against Arkansas as both teams came into the game following a rough stretch of results. The Vols were able to come out on top, beating the Razorbacks by a score of 82-61 in a game that Tennessee coach Rick Barnes called one the Vols’ “most complete performances.”
Here were some of the takeaways.
Fulky’s flu game
Fulkerson did participate with the team since Saturday’s game and up until an hour before tip, Barnes wasn’t even sure if he was going to be available. Even then, despite being listed as a starter on the online stat system available to the media, Fulkerson did not return to the court until right before the lineups were announced in the arena. Once he entered the court, Fulkerson had a fantastic night, scoring 14 points on 4-6 shooting, with eight rebounds, a block and a steal. Fulkerson also attempted, albeit missed, the first three-point shot of his career.
“I don’t even think (Fulkerson) warmed up with the guys” Barnes said “But he said he’d give us what he could and when you look at what he did tonight and I think he was really remarkable”
The freshman guard has impressed many since arriving in Knoxville midseason. Tonight was no exception. Santiago Vescovi led the team in scoring and did so with accurate shooting. From the field, Vescovi was 6-10. However, the more impressive stat was his 75% three-point shooting rate. He made three of his four attempts and the lone miss was a desperation shot late in the shot clock. Vescovi also made use of this free throw attempts, going 5-6 from the charity stripe.
“I think when I enjoy the game, it’s the best moment.” Vescovi said “I enjoy it all the time when I start playing and you can see it, probably from my face … I enjoy it and that’s when better things come out.”
Gaines and Nkamhoua stepping up
Devonte Gaines and Olivier Nkamhoua have had to step up with injuries and sickness at the top of the roster. Gaines didn’t shoot the ball that well from the field, but he stepped up in other ways. The freshman pulled down seven rebounds, only one less than team leading rebounder Fulkerson. Gaines also stole the ball three times and went 4-5 at the free throw line.
“It was a good feeling” Gaines said “Just for me personally, to be able to help my teammates. Just getting a lot of minutes tonight. Coach trusted me to stay on the floor with the older guys and we were able to get the win.”
Even though Nkamhoua only played 10 minutes tonight, he was able to score 10 points, shooting 100% from the field. He additionally pulled down six rebounds and contributed a steal. As of recent games, Nkamhoua has seen his minutes be lower compared to early season totals, but according to him, he’s not worried about that.
“I if don’t derserve the minutes,” Nkamhoua said “if it’s not going to help us win, to be honest with you, however it might sometimes hurt me a little bit, it’s what we need to win. And if I’m not contributing to winning, then I understand 100% Coach Barnes not playing me. So, I need to work hard enough so that I can contribute to us winning.”
Tennessee is back in action this Saturday at 6 p.m. against South Carolina. The Vols’ next home game is one week from now, Feb. 18 against in-state rival Vanderbilt.