Here are three quick takeaways from Tennessee’s 92-77 win over Lipscomb at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday evening.
Flipping the script: The first half of Thursday night’s game looked like a continuation of the Vols’ late-game struggles in their win over Tennessee Tech on Tuesday. Then the Vols flipped the script and had one of their better performances over the last 22 minutes or so of the contest.
Poor defense was one of the primary culprits for the slow start. But you also have to give credit where it’s due – Lipscomb, which came into the game averaging nine 3-pointers per game – absolutely rained them down in the early. The Bison hit 11-of-18 (61.1%) from beyond the arc in the first half. Tennessee struggled to close out on the shooters, and Lipscomb made the Vols pay.
Tennessee adjustments at halftime and held Lipscomb to just one made 3-pointer in the final 20 minute of the game. That was a complete game-changer. But the comeback actually started very late in the first half. Tennessee finished the first on a 6-0 run to cut Lipscomb’s lead, which swelled to 15 at one point, down to nine. The Vols then started the second half on a 15-2 run, giving them the lead, and then as the second half progressed, complete control of the game late.
Williams, Hubbs shine: Robert Hubbs’ 22 points shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve been paying attention in recent contests. The senior guard, who played the point a bit on Thursday as well, now has scored 20-plus points in three straight games. It was freshman Grant Williams, however, who led the way with 30 points. The freshman, coming off consecutive seven-point efforts, was extremely aggressive against Lipscomb – regularly getting to the rim, and to the free- throw line.
Williams hit 10-of-13 from the stipe to go along with his efficient 10-of-12 performance from the field. He also added six boards, helping the Vols to a 41-21 edge in that category. He became the first UT freshman to score 30 points since Chris Lofton, who was in attendance on Thursday evening.
Injuries piling up: The Vols continued to be without freshman guard Jordan Bone, who isn’t expected to return until SEC play. Admiral Schofield sat the game out with a foot injury as well.
But the most concerning development was a scary-looking injury to freshman forward John Fulkerson, who landed hard and suffered what appeared to be a gruesome arm injury. He didn’t return and will undergo further testing. Based on how it looked, he very well could be out an extended period of time.
Those injuries left the Vols with just nine available scholarship players. Forward Lew Evans (9 points, 5 rebounds in 25 minutes) and guard Kwe Parker (12 minutes) saw some of their most extended playing time of the year.
Final stats from UT’s 92-77 win over Lipscomb pic.twitter.com/G0xfMZO9m1
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) December 16, 2016
Up next: Tennessee vs. No. 8 Gonzaga at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville (Dec. 18, 4 pm ET)