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    Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

    Tennessee took care of business on Wednesday night, easily dispatching a lowly Alabama State squad in Thompson-Boling Arena.

    The No. 20 Vols improved to 4-0 on the year with a 76-41 victory over the Hornets on Wednesday night. During the game, both Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark, and four different Vols scored in double figures.

    After the game, Tennessee announced that redshirt sophomore forward Zach Kent will be “stepping away” from the program indefinitely, though Kent will still be enrolled in classes. Head coach Rick Barnes discussed Kent leaving the team, his two senior guards, the Vols’ victory, and much more after the game.

    Here’s everything Barnes had to say after Tennessee’s win:

    A couple Vol players met with the media after the game as well. Freshmen Josiah-Jordan James and Drew Pember discussed their play and Tennessee’s win over Alabama State:

      Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

      Zach Kent joined the Vols as a promising big man with the ability to hit shots from distance. Now, however, it looks like his Tennessee career is coming to an end.

      Tennessee confirmed after the Vols’ 76-41 victory over Alabama State on Wednesday night that Kent will be “stepping away” from the basketball program indefinitely. He will remain enrolled in school, but for the time being, he will not be part of the Vols’ basketball roster.

      Kent was not available for the Vols on Wednesday night, leaving Tennessee with just nine scholarship players against Alabama State. That’s the same number the Vols will be left with for the duration of Kent’s absence from the team, unless Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic’s appeal is accepted by the NCAA and he is granted immediate eligibility for this season.

      The 6-foot-11, 235-pound forward from Delaware signed with Tennessee in the 2017 class after playing his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. Kent played in two games as a freshman in the 2017-18 season, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds against Presbyterian and snagging an offensive board against High Point. Kent redshirted that season. Last year, Kent underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee in October and sat out the entire season.

      This year, Kent appeared in two games, playing four minutes against UNC Asheville and logging six minutes against Murray State, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds.

      In total, Kent played in four games, scoring seven points and totaling five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

      It remains to be seen how long Kent is away from the program, but it sounds like it’ll be a permanent move for the redshirt sophomore.

      Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes added after the game that Kent is not facing any disciplinary issues, and he’s still enrolled in school.

        (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

        No. 20 Tennessee did what they were supposed to do with an inferior opponent on Wednesday night: take care of business.

        The Vols (4-0) didn’t look at the top of their game against Alabama State (0-4) on Wednesday, but Tennessee was in control for pretty much the entire contest, beating the Hornets 76-41 in UT’s first game as a ranked team this season.

        Tennessee didn’t score a plethora of points against Alabama State, but several Vols got in on the scoring action. Jordan Bowden led the team with 16 points and three made three-pointers, and Lamonte Turner (13), Yves Pons (11), and John Fulkerson (10) all scored in double figures as well. For Pons, he’s now scored in double-digits in every game this season so far. He also had five rebounds and three blocks.

        Freshman Josiah-Jordan James led both teams in rebounds, as the 6-foot-6 guard pulled down 13 on the night. He finished with three points and five assists to go along with those boards.

        Eight of the nine scholarship Vols who played on Wednesday scored. Freshman Drew Pember scored his first points as a Vol, finishing with eight points, five rebounds, and an assist while making one of his two field goal attempts and six of his 10 free throws. Olivier Nkahmoua totaled eight points and five rebounds, and Davonte Gaines scored four points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing two assists. Jalen Johnson was the only scholarship Vol who played who didn’t score.

        The Hornets hung around some in the first half, but once the Vols hit the gas pedal, it was over. Alabama State mustered a mere 18 points in the second half, and they shot an abysmal 16.7 percent from the floor in the second half and just 28 percent for the entire game.

        Here are our three biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s win over Alabama State.

        When the Vols win, YOU win! Take 20% off your ENTIRE order in the RTI merch store by using the promo code “UT20” at checkout! Click on the image above to browse our entire inventory!

        Ugly Offense

        Tennessee started out slowly on the offensive end, and they never really could find a rhythm against Alabama State.

        The Hornets played some pesky defense, but the Vols were just simply missing shots rather than getting frustrated by Alabama State’s defensive effort. Tennessee began 1-of-8 from three, and they had several cold stretches on the offensive end. The Vols went on a flurry from three to end the first half, mostly thanks to Jordan Bowden, but UT was only 2-of-10 from distance in the second half, leaving them 6-of-21 from three for the entire game.

        Tennessee was better in the paint, scoring 40 of their 76 points down low. John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, and Olivier Nkamhoua were big reasons for that, as the trio combined to score 29 points on the night, with Pons providing the only three among the group.

        But the Vols’ offense still struggled overall, especially with turnovers. Tennessee committed 12 turnovers on the night, including three from both Lamonte Turner and Josiah-Jordan James. Three other Vols committed multiple turnovers on the night. A large chunk of UT’s 76 points came from free throws, as the Vols went 16-of-25 from the charity stripe.

        Luckily for the Vols, Wednesday night wasn’t a bad night to have an off night shooting the ball. Alabama State was clearly an inferior team, the Vols had more talent, size, and athleticism.

        Two 1,000-Point Scorers 

        During Tennessee’s victory over Alabama State, the Vols’ senior duo in the backcourt both eclipsed significant career milestones.

        Both Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner scored their 1,000th career points on Wednesday night. Bowden got over the 1,000-point mark in the first half, and Turner joined him in the second half. Wednesday night marked the second time in the last year that Tennessee has had two players eclipse the 1,000-point threshold in the same game. In the Vols’ 92-81 victory over Louisville last year on November 21st, both Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield scored their 1,000th career point as Vols.

        Bowden finished with 16 points, two rebounds, and an assist on 5-of-12 shooting. Turner totaled 13 points, six assists, and three rebounds while shooting 5-of-13 from the field.

        First Time in Nearly a Decade

        With the win, Tennessee improved to 4-0 to start the 2019-20 season. That’s the second-straight season the Vols have begun a season with four-straight wins, as Tennessee went 4-0 last year before losing to Kansas in Brooklyn to fall to 4-1.

        This season marks the first time since the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons that the Vols have had back-to-back 4-0 starts to a season. In fact, the Vols started at least 4-0 in every year of the Bruce Pearl era from 2005-11.

          On Wednesday, Tennessee’s football team hit the practice field once again as the Vols continued to prepare for the Missouri Tigers this upcoming Saturday. Though head coach Jeremy Pruitt says he has a starting quarterback in mind, he won’t make that information public knowledge till game day.

          Because of that, the focus was all on Tennessee’s quarterbacks at practice once again. You can check out all of our notes on the QB position, the Vols’ offensive line rotation, a few banged up defensive players, and more here.

          Now, take a look at all of our video highlights from the Vols’ Wednesday practice session:

            Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

            Tennessee was back out on the practice field on Wednesday in preparation for their trip to Columbia, Missouri on Saturday. As has been the case for what feels like an eternity, all eyes were on the quarterbacks during the media-viewing portion of practice.

            Jarrett Guarantano had his famous white Michael Jackson glove on his left hand while he continues to work through the post-surgery pain to repair his broken left wrist. Guarantano and freshman Brian Maurer were the first two quarterbacks in line during routes-versus-air. Guarantano also took the first rep in 11-on-11 as the media was leaving practice.

            Jeremy Pruitt mentioned during the SEC teleconference early on Wednesday that he knew who the starting quarterback was going to be, but he added that he’ll wait until Saturday evening before game time to announce it.

            When the Vols win, YOU win! Take 20% off your ENTIRE order in the RTI merch store by using the promo code “UT20” at checkout! Click on the image above to browse our entire inventory!

            Along the offensive line, the first team rotation from left to right consisted of Wanya Morris, Trey Smith, Brandon Kennedy, Jerome Carvin, and K’Rojhn Calbert. The second team O-line was Jahmir Johnson, Riley Locklear, Chris Akporoghene, and Darnell Wright. Johnson also rotated in with the ones next to Smith.

            While the offensive line worked on tandem blocks, and before working with the offensive line in run blocking drills, the tight ends caught passes from position coach Brian Niedermeyer. The rotation consisted of Dominick Wood-Anderson, Austin Pope, Jacob Warren, Princeton Fant, and then Andrew Craig. Fant was back with the tight ends after spending much of the last month with the wide receivers.

            Defensively, Bryce Thompson (knee) was practicing with a big brace. Henry To’o To’o was also dressed out with a big wrap around his knee.

            Quavaris Crouch spent some time working with the inside linebackers considering the circumstances with To’o To’o. John Mincey, LaTrell Bumphus, and Darel Middleton were working with the outside linebackers.

            Former Tennessee fullback Kevin Cooper, the older brother of Auburn defensive line commit Jay Hardy, was in attendance for practice.

            Pruitt is scheduled to meet with the media following practice.

              Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

              Jarrett Guarantano’s redshirt junior season got off to a rocky start. And it only got worse.

              Hopes were high that the Tennessee’s starting quarterback would thrive under new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney in 2019, but that didn’t appear to be the case to begin the season. The fourth-year junior played inconsistently in Tennessee’s 38-30 loss to Georgia State to start the season, and his play worsened against BYU, a game the Vols lost 29-26 in double-overtime. After a better performance against FCS foe UT-Chattanooga, Guarantano found himself on the bench to start the second half a week later when the Vols played Florida.

              Through four weeks, Guarantano had thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions in three games against FBS opponents.

              Coming out of UT’s bye week, Guarantano lost his starting job to freshman Brian Maurer. A week later, the redshirt junior had to come off the bench in relief of Maurer when Tennessee hosted Mississippi State. Guarantano wasn’t asked to do much except helped protect the Vols’ lead, and he did that perfectly, completing six of his seven passes for 106 yards and the game-sealing touchdown to Tyler Byrd in the fourth quarter.

              Next week, though, was a disaster.

              Guarantano struggled to complete passes against then-No. 1 Alabama on the road the following week, but his night will forever be remembered for his fumble at the goal line on fourth down that resulted in a 100-yard recovery and return for a touchdown by the Tide, turning a potential one-score game to a 35-13 defeat. What’s worse is that it appeared Guarantano changed the play and went hurry-up with the offense, leading many to say he went “rogue” at the goal line.

              After that, many fans never wanted to see Guarantano on the field again. But he’s taken snaps at quarterback in every game since, and he’s been a completely different player.

              The Vols have won three-straight games, and Guarantano has played a large role in all three wins. And that’s led the fourth-year junior to be labeled as one of the top “comeback stories” in college football this season.

              When the Vols win, YOU win! Take 20% off your ENTIRE order in the RTI merch store by using the promo code “UT20” at checkout! Click on the image above to browse our entire inventory!

              Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated has drawn the ire of Vol fans for some of his opinions regarding both Tennessee’s football and men’s basketball programs. But this week, he has nothing but positive things to say about one of the most talked-about players on UT’s roster this season.

              Forde listed off 10 of the best “comeback stories” in college football so far this season, and Guarantano was included among the feel-good entries.

              That fumble against Alabama? Forde calls that the low point of the season for Guarantano.

              “That led to a sideline ripping and facemask tugging from coach Jeremy Pruitt, not to mention being pilloried by Tennessee fans,” Forde wrote. “After being benched earlier in the season, many of them didn’t want to see him again.”

              After that low moment, Guarantano apologized to the entire team behind closed doors and took responsibility for his actions. Since then, he’s been efficient and effective.

              In the three games after that Alabama debacle, Guarantano has come off the bench and played the majority of the snaps at quarterback in each game for Tennessee. Guarantano filled in for redshirt freshman JT Shrout after the first couple series against South Carolina up until he was knocked out of the game with injury, played in all but a few series against UAB, and started the second half against Kentucky in the Vols’ 17-13 win on the road.

              In those three games, Guarantano has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 491 yards, five touchdowns, and just one interception. He’s also run for 35 yards on 12 carries and is averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt.

              So what’s changed for Guarantano? “A lot” according to Forde.

              “Guarantano paid a price for his insubordination, but he’s kept his head in the game and been ready when Tennessee needed him,” Forde wrote. “The junior’s roller-coaster career is trending back up right now.”

              Forde goes on to say that Guarantano “probably gives (Pruitt) his best chance” to win the final two games of the regular season against Missouri and Vanderbilt. Tennessee has stayed mum on who will be starting at quarterback this weekend against the Tigers, but Pruitt mentioned last week that Guarantano has thrived in his support role and could continue to come off the bench and play significant snaps that way.

              “I do think he’s probably more suited to come off the bench maybe than the other guys,” Pruitt said of Guarantano. “I think he can see and process and take some of the things that have happened previously in the game and take advantage of it. It’s something we felt gave us the best opportunity to win and have success, so that’s why we’ve done it. I think he can play just as well starting the game.”

              Whatever happens at QB on Saturday, Guarantano will likely have a large role in the outcome of the game.

              On the season, Guarantano has completed 105 of his 169 passes (62.9 percent) for 1,402 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions.