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3 Observations: No. 5 Tennessee 66, Georgia Tech 53

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

It was an ugly game from the start, but good teams find ways to win even in less-than-ideal conditions. And that’s what Tennessee did on a late tip-off on Tuesday night.

The No 5 Vols gritted their way to a 66-53 victory over Georgia Tech in Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday night. The game tipped off at 9:00 PM Eastern and didn’t end until well after 11 PM. The game as a whole saw nearly 50 fouls called, and the two teams combined to shoot 59 free throws.

Grant Williams led the way for Tennessee with 22 points. He also added eight rebounds and three assists, while Kyle Alexander scored 12 points and pulled down nine boards. Jordan Bone put together a solid second half and finished with 15 points.

Georgia Tech was held to just 27.6 percent shooting from the floor, and they turned the ball over 14 times. They only assisted five times on their 16 made buckets on the night, and Tennessee’s defense kept this one from getting more interesting.

Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Vols’ ugly win

Sloppy, Sloppy Play

Neither team played particularly crisp basketball on Tuesday night, but luckily for the Vols, Georgia Tech played worse overall than they did. But it was still an incredibly sloppy game for Tennessee.

The Vols shot just 63.2 percent from the free throw line, and they turned the ball over 13 times. Eight of those 13 turnovers came in the first half, so they got better about keeping the ball away from the Yellow Jackets in the second half. But it was still much too ugly for the No. 5 team in the country.

The missed free throws will be the biggest focal point, however. Grant Williams finished with a game-high 22 points, but he could’ve had a lot more. He missed six of his 16 free throw attempts, and Tennessee as a whole missed 14 of their 38 free throws.

Tennessee did out-rebound Tech, 44-37. But this was easily the sloppiest game of the year for t he Vols.

A Return to Forget

Shembari Phillips made his return to Thompson-Boling Arena. But he won’t want to remember this game.

Phillips transferred off the Vols roster two years ago, and he had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Friday night marked his second game as a Yellow Jacket, and it was the first time he played in Knoxville as an opposing player.

The redshirt junior finished the game with just two points, one rebound, and one assist in 22 minutes of play. He only made one of his four field goal attempts and missed his lone free throw attempt.

Milestone Win

The win on Tuesday night was a big one for head coach Rick Barnes.

Tennessee’s head coach picked up his 664th career victory, tying him with John Wooden for the 26th-most wins in Division I college basketball history. The win marked his 60th as head coach of the Vols as well.

Barnes will look to move ahead of Wooden next week when Tennessee takes on Louisville in the NIT Season Tip-Off on November 21st.

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