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Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee Coasts Past Lenoir Rhyne In Exhibition

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball made easy work of Lenoir-Rhyne in its final preseason tuneup Tuesday night. The Vols scored the game’s first 15 points and cruised to a 90-48 victory from there.

Here’s three quick takeaways on the exhibition victory.

Transfers Turn In Strong Offensive Performances Again

Tennessee’s incoming transfers Dalton Knecht an Jordan Gainey were the stars of the Vols’ exhibition win over Michigan State on Sunday and they turned in strong offensive performances again versus Lenoir-Rhyne.

Gainey got a ton of work with the ball in his hands again as Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler didn’t play. The USC Upstate transfer got the Vols going with a midrange jumper on the first possession of the game and he didn’t look back.

The combo guard scored eight first half points on his way to 13 points on five-of-nine shooting from the field and three-of-six shooting from three-point range in 25 minutes.

Gainey hit a midrange jumper on the Vols’ first possession and Knecht hit a three-pointer on the second possession. Knecht was Tennessee’s best offensive player again scoring a team-high 11 points in the first half.

Like Gainey, Knecht’s minutes went down in the second half of the blowout but he still totaled 13 points on six-of-10 shooting from the field and one-of-five shooting from three-point range. Knecht showed a lot of the same offensive ability he showed against Michigan State, scoring from behind the arc, in the midrange and at the basket.

It’s no shock, but both Tennessee transfers turned in strong impressive outings against Lenoir-Rhyne.

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Better Look At Young Vols

Tennessee’s second exhibition game gave us a chance to get a better look  at a number of younger Vols that either won’t play much this year or will be on the fringe of the rotation.

Freshmen Cam Carr, Cade Phillips and JP Estrella all played in the Michigan Stat exhibition but it was for very limited minutes. We saw more of all three tonight.

Carr was the most impressive which wasn’t shocking due to the way Tennessee’s coaches have touted his offensive ability. The freshman wing had two nice transition dunks and drilled a triple on his way to nine points in the win. Carr also showed off his insane wing span while grabbing seven rebounds.

Neither Phillips or Estrella were as offensively minded as Carr but rebounded the ball well and played good defense. Both big men had put back buckets with Phillips scoring four points and Estrella scoring six.

We also got our first look of the preseason at redshirt freshman D.J. Jefferson in the second half of the exhibition. He had a nice baseline drive for his only two points.

One Negative Through Two Exhibition Games

Through two exhibition games, there’s only one real concern I’ve seen for Tennessee— rebounding. That’s particularly defensive rebounding as Tobe Awaka and Jahmai Mashack are tough enough on the glass that the Vols won’t get shutout on that side.

But defensive rebounding and doing so consistently is at least a little bit of a concern. Michigan State out rebounded Tennessee 38-33 overall and and 16-8 on the offensive side.

Lenoir-Rhyne had 16 offensive rebounds to Tennessee’s 10 offensive boards while the Vols still dominated the overall rebounding margin. Some of that isn’t a massive surprise due to the fact that the Bears missed 27 more shots than Tennessee.

Some of the rebounding woes are to be expected. Tennessee has less of an interior presence this season and is going to play more four-guard lineups than ever before.

It’s just two exhibition games. I’m not willing to push the panic button on the rebounding and I’m sure more concerns will emerge. But the rebounding struggles are something to watch moving forward.

Up Next

Tennessee opens its 2023-24 regular season in six days when it hosts Tennessee Tech at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center.

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