Tennessee basketball finishes as the best of the worst in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
After a disappointing loss in the opening round against UTEP, the Vols looked like a completely different team with a 15-point redemption victory over Xavier Friday afternoon, and an 82-63 victory over Wake Forest to wrap up the tournament Saturday afternoon from the Paradise Islands.
As they depart for home from the Bahamas Tennessee was successful in doing damage control after their loss to UTEP by beating a Xavier team that will undoubtedly be in the NCAA tournament conversation come March, and a versatile Wake Forest team with great size all around.
Like he did on Friday, Jarnell Stokes led the way for the Vols yet again. He netted 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to obtain his 22nd career double-double, and finished with a double-double in all three games played in the Paradise Islands.
Second top scorer for the Vols was newcomer Darius Thompson, who finished with 16 points and most importantly was perfect from the free-throw line, an area of concern for the team as a whole in the early going this season.
Jordan McRae, who had led Tennessee in scoring in every game this season until Friday’s victory, only finished with 10 points, his lowest total of the season.
One of the Vols’ biggest issues in their loss to UTEP in the opening round on Thursday night was their dismal shooting effort, which at points in the game was below 30 percent. Not only were they bad from the field, but from the charity stripe as well, missing 16 free-throws throughout the opening game.
They responded well against Xavier, upping their field goal percentage to 44 percent in a 64-49 victory over the Musketeers and continued to progress on Saturday as they finished shooting 54 percent from the field and 78 percent from the charity stripe.
This is the team third-year head coach Cuonzo Martin had envisioned throughout the entire off-season when he claimed this was his best team yet at the University of Tennessee, but the rest of the season will be the ultimate determining factor of that judgment.
Tennessee will have an entire week to rest from their journey before returning to the court. They will face Tennessee Tech at home on Saturday, Dec. 7 at noon on Fox Sports Net.