The Vols didn’t play their prettiest game of the young 2017-18 season in this game, but they did enough to build a lead early and hold off a capable N.C. State team en route to a 67-58 victory over the Wolfpack in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Tennessee used a determined defensive effort to stymie a Wolfpack team who had beaten No. 2 Arizona in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis a couple days prior. The Vols held N.C. State to just 38.2 percent shooting and only 18.8 percent from behind the three-point line.
The Vols finished third in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament with the victory.
Here are the three biggest things that stood out from Tennessee’s victory over N.C. State.
An Unlikely Trio
The Vols are still figuring out their roster early on in the season. Players are trying to find their roles and settle in to a rhythm. But so far this young season, several of Tennessee’s less talked about players have stepped up. And that held true against N.C. State.
Kyle Alexander turned in another solid game two days after recording his first double-double as a Vol. He totaled eight points and 13 rebounds and had several key rebounds late. Jordan Bone hit some critical three-pointers early on and led the team in scoring for most of the game. He finished with 13 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Jordan Bowden took a while to heat up, but when he did, he turned it on. He nailed two threes during a pivotal run for the Vols in the second half and finished with 10 points, three assists, and three rebounds.
Grant Williams led the team with 14 points, and James Daniel III had nine points and two assists.
More Threes, Please
Tennessee came into this game making a good amount of their three-point attempts on the season. They entered today’s game having hit 40 percent of their 85 three point attempts. That number only improved after Friday’s performance.
The Vols nailed eight of their 18 three-pointers against N.C. State, good for a 44.4 percent execution rate. Bone and Bowden both hit two of their three attempts from behind the three-point arc, and Chris Darrington was a perfect 2-of-2 from three.
Tennessee hasn’t relied too heavily on the three-point shot to generate offense so far this season, but they’ve been able to knock down their shots from deep when they’ve taken them so far.
A Successful Trip
The Vols’ trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis proved to be very fruitful. Tennessee got a win over a ranked opponent in Purdue, fought tough with a top 5 team in Villanova, and got a solid win against N.C. State.
Tennessee has done a good job building up their early season NCAA Tournament resume with these non-conference teams, and they’ll have more chances to do so down the line when they face Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Wake Forest in the next month of play. But this trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis was just the kind of start this team needed if they hope to make it back to the Big Dance.