Tuesday night, Tennessee men’s basketball welcomed in-state rival Vanderbilt. The Vols swept the season series against the Dores with a win by a score of 65-61.
“It was a tough game tonight” Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said “I though both teams really competed and really played hard … low scoring game, I thought our defense was pretty good then in the second half they were able to get some separation and it was kind of an uphill climb from there. I thought our guys continued to fight, continued to compete.”
Josiah-Jordan James, John Fulkerson, Jordan Bowden, Santiago Vescovi and Yves Pons were the first five for the Big Orange against the Commodores, with Fulkerson, Bowden, Vescovi and Pons all playing over 30 minutes. Fulkerson and Bowden were Tennessee’s leading scorers with 17 points, while Fulkerson was also the Vols’ top rebounder.
Pons got the scoring underway and Tennessee raced out to an early 9-2 lead. However, Vanderbilt countered with six straight points to bring the score within one after seven minutes. The two teams traded baskets until Bowden knocked down five straight points to put the Vols up five. However, the Commodores rattled off 10 consecutive points to tilt the margin in their favor.
Tennessee would answer, going on a 7-2 run to tie the game at 24-24 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. Vanderbilt then scored four straight points, but the Vols grabbed two layups in the final minute of the first half to keep the score tied at the break.
Coming out of the break, Tennessee took the lead once again, going on a 7-4 run. The Commodores did not back down, responding with nine consecutive points to grab five-point lead with eight minutes remaining. After that push though, the momentum sung in favor of the Vols for the remainder of the game until the waning minutes.
Tennessee would go on a 14-11 run before really creating distance between them and their visitors. With roughly seven minutes to go, the game really opened up for the Vols. Tennessee would go on a 12-0 run to seemingly put the game away. The highlight of the run was Vescovi three-pointer which brought the Tennessee faithful to their feet.
The Vols did not make it easy, allowing Vanderbilt to go on a 13-2 run to bring the score within two points with six seconds to go. However, Bowden nailed both his free throws to put the game away when he was fouled on the next possession.
“I was upset at halftime about the way we started the game” Rick Barnes said “Missed layups and silly turnovers just thing that this time of year you shouldn’t be making. And then, we have a game were we’re up 12 or 13 and just turn it over three straight times and just ridiculous manner. You just can’t be doing that. This time of year, it’s about playing basketball and understanding that every possession matters.”
Tennessee will be back in action this Saturday when travel to face Auburn. Tipoff is scheduled for Noon ET on CBS and the Vol Network.