After a disappointing loss the night before to UTEP, the Vols bounced back in a big way.
Tennessee basketball picked up their fourth win of the season in a redemption game on Friday afternoon against Xavier 64-49, avenging a 67-63 loss suffered at the start of the season in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Vols will face Wake Forest on Saturday, who picked up a victory over USC after falling short Thursday to Kansas. They will be playing for fifth place in the tournament.
Leading the way for the Vols in their victory Friday afternoon was Jarnell Stokes.
Stokes finished the game with 20 points and 10 boards, his 21st career double-double, and third of the season. Stokes’ performance also resulted in the first time this season someone dressed in orange outscored reigning SEC Player of the Week Jordan McRae, who finished with 16 points.
The key for Tennessee’s victory was their domination in the post. Not only with points in the paint, but the way they man-handled the Musketeers on the boards.
Tennessee out-rebounded Xavier 41-to-29, and pulled in 16 offensive boards compared to Xavier’s 11.
The Vols shooting improved vastly from the night before, except for from beyond the arc. Tennessee connected on only two of their 14 attempts from three-point land. While the shots didn’t fall from the three-point-line, they fell more often from the charity stripe.
After missing 16 free throws in a loss to UTEP just 12 hours prior to their game on Friday, the Vols made the most of their trips to the free-throw line against Xavier. They connected on 12-of-18 attempts while their counterparts finished 3-of-10 from the line.
While the Vols were dominant on the boards, they smothered the Musketeers on defense. The last time the two met, Xavier had three players reach double-figures in scoring, with Semaj Christon leading the way with 18 points. On Friday only Matt Stainbrook was able to do so, and only contributed 10 points while pulling down just five boards against Tennessee.
Ironically when the two met the first time, Christon dominated while Stokes fouled out with only four points. This time it was Christon who finished with just four points while Stokes lit up the stat sheet, making the most of his second opportunity against a Musketeer squad the Vols have now faced three times over a one year span.
Tennessee will finish off their trip to the Bahamas on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 3:30 p.m. on AXS TV when Wake Forest. Here’s an excerpt from the tournament preview posted earlier in the week on Wake Forest, and the challenge they will present for Tennessee in the final round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons, like four of the eight team field, will also enter the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament undefeated at 5-0. They are led by Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devon Thomas.
While Miller-McIntyre is the one who can shoot lights out from the floor, Thomas is the banger down low who fights and scrapes for rebounds and second-chance baskets.
Miller-McIntyre comes into the tournament averaging 18.6 points and 4.8 assists per game. He shoots a nice 48.4 percent from the field, including 31.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Thomas on the other hand is a walking double-double. Literally, the six-foot-nine sophomore is averaging 14.4 points along with 11.6 rebounds so far this season. His most complete performance thus far was a 20 point, 17 rebound game in a 98-71 victory over VMI. Thomas has two double-doubles, both in which came in back-to-back games this season.
If the Vols find themselves in a matchup against the Demon Deacons it could be trouble for the boys in orange. Maymon and Stokes would have their hands full with one of the best big men in the nation to this point, while Tennessee’s guards would have the daunting task of controlling a versatile guard in Miller-McIntyre.
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