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Bone Leads Tennessee to Statement Win over Vandy

Photo Credit: Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After giving the ball away 22 times and making one 3-pointer on Wednesday against South Carolina, Rick Barnes knew his team would have to make some changes. On Saturday night, the Vols (9-8, 2-3 SEC) beat Vanderbilt (8-9, 2-3 SEC), correcting their mistakes in an 87-75 win behind a stellar offensive display.

It all started with point guard Jordan Bone, who “just showed spurts” in his previous games back from injury, according to Rick Barnes.

Bone lit it up in his return home to Nashville. The freshman scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-5 3PT) in 31 minutes on the floor. Sixteen of those points game in the second half, when Bone made all five of his shots.

“Of course it feels amazing, but I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for giving me that confidence to make those shots,” Bone said.

The freshman had five assists as well, including an alley-oop to Robert Hubbs in the first half.

After criticizing his guards Wednesday in the loss to South Carolina, Barnes was pleased with his point guard’s performance back home in the mid-state.

“He was good,” Barnes said. “I thought he secured the ball better. He was great in practice yesterday, shooting the ball and getting to the rim. He had his best game as a Volunteer.”

Barnes said he didn’t even think about this game as a homecoming for his starting point guard.

Bone wasn’t worried either.

“It’s just another game, you got to execute as a team,” Bone said. “We were poised tonight when the crowd got into it. As a team we were just focused and ready for this game. We knew they were going to play the zone. We knew they couldn’t guard our offense.”

Jordan Bone’s 3s kept Tennessee in the lead for the entire second half. When UT needed to silence the crowd in the second half, they turned to Bone.

Inside-Out Motion Breaks down Zone

Tennessee’s half-court offense was dominant against Vanderbilt. The Vols only scored six fast break points, but tallied 40 points in the paint.

Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield both had big nights.

“I thought offensively we were very efficient,” Barnes said. “Taking care of the ball was a priority. Our inside guys, Grant and Admiral did a really nice job.”

Bone said the offense’s rhythm started with “valuing the ball.”

“A good offensive team plays inside-out,” he said. “Our bigs shoot the ball well and make shots around the basket. If we play inside-out we’re going to be fine.”

Grant Williams (12 pts) was one rebound shy of a double-double. Four of those boards were offensive rebounds. Admiral Schofield had 15 points and three rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. Lew Evans also logged 16 minutes, scoring four points.

Vandy senior Luke Kornet kept the ‘Dores in the game for much of the second half. The 7-footer finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

But even though he was craning his neck just to get in position, Grant Williams found success against the towering Kornet.

“It’s different,” Williams said. “He’s very big, that’s the only thing I can describe him as. I haven’t played against a 7-foot-1 guy in a while, since junior year of high school. It was different looking up the entire time. It kind of hurt my neck a little bit.”

While Tennessee and Vanderbilt both had 26 rebounds, the Vols had more second-chance points (15-8).

“I’d say we played hard and we just finished,” Williams added. “We did a good job getting on the glass. We knew that’s where we’re going to have success because we’re going to take our shots. Then we just did a good job getting good position and going right back up with it.”

Vols Repeatedly Silence Hostile Crowd 

In road games against Florida and North Carolina, Tennessee had chances to win late, but couldn’t quite finish.

Against Vanderbilt, the Vols made shots when they had to, and outlasted the Commodores.

“They made a push back, but we moved the ball well,” Barnes said. “Admiral did a great job taking the ball to the basket. I thought we had patience and poise against the zone, which is good.”

“We know that when we play inside-out we’re a hard team to play against,” Schofield added. “When we start being a perimeter team, that’s not our strength.”

Tennessee travels to Ole Miss (10-7, 1-4 SEC) on Tuesday for a 9 p.m. ET matchup with the Rebels.

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