Keon Johnson- Tennessee vs Texas A&M

Tennessee guard Keon Johnson plays defense in the Vols' 68-54 win in College Station.

The ninth-ranked Tennessee basketball team continued its trek into SEC play after an upset loss to Alabama. Tennessee was able to bounce back with a close home win against Arkansas and a dominant road win against Texas A&M.

Here’s how the Vols graded out.

Backcourt

 

After an unforeseen loss against Alabama in which Tennessee guard struggled, they were able to get back on track and help lead the team once again against Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Against Arkansas, Josiah Jordan James led the Vols in scoring with 17 points while shooting 50% from the field. He also went 3-for-5 from the free-throw line.

James also stuffed the stat sheet against the Razorbacks with nine rebounds, three steals and a block.

Freshman Keon Johnson made his first start against Arkansas and impressed mightily.

Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup for his defense, but he offensively scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting while also going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Against the Aggies Santiago Vescovi set a career-high in points with 23 on the day and went an impressive 6-for-10 from behind the three-point line. He also added in five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Jaden Springer made his first career start against Texas A&M on Saturday.

Springer turned in a solid 10-point performance on 5-of-6 shooting from the field along with six assists in 30 minutes of play.

Tennessee was able to flex its muscle once again when it comes to backcourt depth against Arkansas and Texas A&M. They need to continue to play well for Tennessee to have sustained success.

Grade: A

Frontcourt

 

After getting called out by Rick Barnes for a lackluster performance against Alabama, John Fulkerson rebounded against Arkansas.

Fulkerson scored 16 points in 33 minutes by going 6-for-11 from the field. Most of his points came at the beginning of the second half when Fulkerson became the focal point of the offense and inflicted his will on Arkansas.

Fulkerson also used his high motor to make hustle plays and grab eight rebounds while also having three blocks on the defensive end of the court.

Against the Aggies Fulkerson had a solid game with 11 points in 30 minutes along with five rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Fulkerson was largely getting doubled teamed and was able to open up the offense by taking up defenders.

Yves Pons was able to affect the game using his athleticism against Arkansas, while he only had six points. He had four key blocks and was also able to grab three rebounds.

The Texas A&M game would be more of the same from Pons as he had eight points and four rebounds along with three assists and two blocks. Pons also helped shut down Emanuel Miller and kept him to just eight points compared to his 18.5 points per game average.

Grade: B+

 

Offense

 

Tennessee’s offense got back on track for the most part against Arkansas.

Tennessee was able to score 79 points while shooting 50% from the field and 76.9% from the free-throw line.

The one struggle for Tennessee came from behind the three-point line. The Vols shot just 27% from behind the three-point line which is a vast drop off from their season average of 34.9%.

Tennessee scored just 68 points against Texas A&M, but its shooting averages reverted to normal averages for the season. The Vols shot 58.7% from the field and shot 38% from behind the three-point line.

The Vols were able to turn defense into offense against the Aggies, scoring 18 points off of the Aggies 15 turnover.

Look for the Vols to continue to use their defense as one of their best offensive weapons as the SEC season progresses.

Grades: B

 

Defense

 

Tennessee’s defense struggled to stop the plethora of scoring options Arkansas borough to the table. Arkansas was able to shoot 52% from the field and 40% from the three-point line.

Despite the issue is with stopping scorers, Tennessee was able to force 20 turnovers which slowed down the Razorback's offense and held them in check late in the game.

The Vols’ defense dominated against a struggling Texas A&M offense. Tennessee held the Aggies to just 34% shooting from the field and 34.8% shooting from behind the three-point line.

The story of the game was what Tennessee’s defense did to Emanuel Miller who averages 18.5 points per game, but against the Vols, he was only able to score eight points.

Grade: B+

 

Bench

 

Tennessee’s bench had a different look this week as Victor Bailey was taken out of the starting lineup.

In his first game coming off of the bench against Arkansas Bailey didn’t let the change of scenery affect his play. Bailey scored 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 shooting from behind the three-point line.

Bailey struggled against the Aggies, scoring just three points in 18 minutes of play.

Coming off the bench against Arkansas, Springer was still nursing an ankle injury, and it showed as he only scored five points in 21 minutes of play.

Johnson scored seven points coming off the bench against Texas A&M. He also added three rebounds and three assists to the stat sheet.

E.J. Anosike only played a combined 10 minutes this week and didn’t score a point. However, his decline in playing time was just a product of matchups according to Rick Barnes.

Oliver Nkamhoua played three minutes against Texas A&M but had four quick points and flowed well within the offense when he did play.

Grade: B

 

Coaching

 

Rick Barnes had his guys ready to go against Arkansas, and they were about to rebound with a win against a very tough and high-scoring offense.

Tennessee continued to struggle to make some open shots against Arkansas, but the shots were just that -- open, once they continue to fall again the Tennessee offense will look better than ever.

Against the Aggies, on the road, Tennessee responded to last year’s crushing defeat at home. Tennessee came into the game locked in and was ready to play from tipoff.

Grade: A

Overall

 

It was a solid week for Tennessee to get back on track against two formidable opponents.

Tennessee was able to right the ship against a high-scoring Arkansas offense and showed they can learn and grow from their mistakes in previous games to win games in the future.

Tennessee was able to go into Texas A&M and impose their will as the better team, they didn’t overthink the game and used its defense to help get the win.

Tennessee will look to continue its momentum this week as they play two games against Vanderbilt.

Grade: A

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