That has been the magic number for the Volunteers this week. On Wednesday, No. 18 Tennessee held the LSU Tigers to 61 points in a home win. Saturday night, the Volunteers held Ole Miss (11-12, 4-6 SEC) to 61 as well. Tennessee held a 10-point lead at halftime over the Rebels en route to a 59-point second half that ended in a 94-61 victory — the largest conference win for the Vols this season. Lamonte Turner’s hot streak continued as he and Grant Williams led five Volunteers in double-figures with 17 points a piece.
Tonight’s win, paired with a Florida loss, moved the Vols (17-5, 7-3 SEC) into sole possession of second place in the SEC behind Auburn.
Here are three observations from the Vols’ win over Ole Miss:
Tennessee has not allowed more than 63 points since Jan. 9 at Vanderbilt when the Vols gave up 84 points. In their last nine games, the Vols are 8-1 and holding opponents to just over 55 points per game. Against the Rebels on Saturday, the Vols forced 17 turnovers while holding Ole Miss to just 35 percent shooting from the field.
James Daniel III tallied four steals tonight and kept creating possessions by diving after loose balls. Tennessee’s only negative on the defensive side of the ball was allowing Ole Miss to gather 14 offensive rebounds, but this tough defense will continue to shine come postseason play.
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Jordan Bone dished out six assists with zero turnovers in a night where the Vols had 27 total assists. It was the second consecutive game that Tennessee had more than 20 assists after totaling 24 against the Tigers on Wednesday.
Tennessee’s ball movement is something to behold. With multiple knockdown shooters on the floor, sometimes the Vols are a little too unselfish. For example, one possession saw the Volunteer guards work the ball around the perimeter against Ole Miss’ zone before finding Grant Williams isolated on the post. This is exactly the look Tennessee was looking for, but Williams passed out of it, which led to Rick Barnes ripping him during the next timeout.
Being too unselfish is a good problem to have at this late point in the season.
Outside of the aforementioned performances from Turner and Williams, Admiral Schofield (following an ankle injury scare) tallied 15 points and 12 boards. Kyle Alexander continued to impress by adding 14 points. Bone and Jordan Bowden chipped in with 10 and 3 points, respectively.
Teams are forced pick their poison against the Volunteers, as anyone on the floor can explode for a big night at any given moment, and their 59-point second half proved that. With Williams and Schofield bringing it every night, the ability for Turner to knock down shots in support is a bad mixture for opponents.
Tennessee travels to struggling Kentucky on Tuesday before facing freshman phenom Collin Sexton at Alabama on Saturday.