The Tennessee Vols hosted Arkansas on Tuesday night, a game in which the Vols desperately needed to get in the win column as the SEC season starts to wind down.

 

After struggling for most of the season to dominate the first half, this group seemed to be motivated to put the Razorbacks away early en route to an 82-61 win. Tennessee (14-10, 6-5 SEC) still has the opportunity to put together a run that could at least put some pressure on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. It’s a long shot, I know.

 

But, if they can put together a string of performances like they did tonight, I wouldn’t count them out just yet.

 

Tennessee led Arkansas 16-8 at the 9:00 minute mark of the first half, in which the Vols had went on an 8-0 to that point. Both teams combined for 15 turnovers at this mark as well, hurting the offensive output for both teams.

 

But, it didn’t take long for the Vols to shake that off. Santiago Vescovi continued to show that he’s slowly building into the type of player Tennessee coaches were hoping they’d get, maybe just not this early.

 

Vescovi scored 13 points in the first half, with four assists as well. He didn’t back down when driving the paint, setting himself up for a productive 20 minutes. It is very clear that Vescovi has a very bright future, as he continues to adapt and tune his game for the Vols.

Tennessee led Arkansas 40-23 at halftime. The Vols had 14 points at the free throw line and 14 points in the paint, while forcing Arkansas to commit 10 turnovers. An impressive half for Tennessee, shooting 48 percent from FG and 44 percent from 3-PT range.

 

Tennessee never let the Hogs get comfortable in the seconnd half, at one point leading by 27, thanks in part to five Vols in double-digit scoring.

 

John Fulkerson, who was visibly fighting some sort of sickness, scored 14 points in 28 minutes of action. He continued to attack the boards, with eight rebounds and a beautiful put-back dunk to bring the crowd to a loud roar.

 

Jordan Bowden had eight points in the first half and finished with 16 on the night. Bowden, who’s struggled at times this season to get going early, was 7-of-16 from the field, continuing to attack the basket and setup his teammates.

 

But, let’s get back to Vescovi.

 

Tennessee didn’t know what they were going to get from the freshman guard when joined the team. Rick Barnes didn’t know if he would actually play any meaningful minutes this season. But after Lamonte Turner had to shut it down for the season due to shoulder surgery, they had to ride with the newbie. To say Vescovi has been important for this team could honestly be an understatement, he’s probably the reason Tennessee has a few more wins in the column.

 

Vescovi scored 20 points and had eight assists on Tuesday night, leading the Vols again on the stat sheet. But it is presence on the court that has led this team to trust him during tough situations. Without Josiah-Jordan James in the lineup over the past few games, it’s been imperative for Tennessee to find another source for points.

 

I would say Vescovi has picked up the ball and ran with it.

 

Five players in double-digits is a good night for this Tennessee team, they will need more of this as the season continues on. With a trip to South Carolina upcoming on Saturday, the Vols find themselves in a position to build some momentum, as a stretch of very tough games approach.

 

This is the SEC, where the whole season has been wacky to this point. Tennessee is just hoping to make it a bit crazier.