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Big Man, Bigger Play: Jonas Aidoo Comes Up Big for Tennessee

Jonas Aidoo
Tennessee F Jonas Aidoo. Photo by Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

“Who is [No.] 0? That guy is a MOUNTAIN.”

A longtime friend and University of Arkansas business school graduate sent me that text about 60 seconds into the game on Saturday night. He was talking about Tennessee’s 6-foot-11 forward Jonas Aidoo.

Aidoo was a mountain-sized monster against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednesday night in Fayetteville as Tennessee outscored Arkansas 48-22 in the paint throughout the 40-minute game. Tennessee asserted its dominance down low and controlled the paint for the entirety of the game with Aidoo playing 30 of the game’s 40 minutes.

Aidoo had his third-best scoring performance of the season on Wednesday with 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds to complete the double-double.

“I thought he played to the rim,” head coach Rick Barnes said of Aidoo during his postgame radio interview. “That was a big thing. He played with some force in there. The last couple days we told him he’s got to play quicker. And I thought he did that. I thought he mixed in a few stationary jump shots that we know he’s capable of making and rebounded. He had a major presence on that (defensive) end down there, too.”

Dalton Knecht is Tennessee’s main scoring threat with shooters such as Jordan Gainey and Zakai Zeigler adding in points from the perimeter around him. But perhaps it is Jonas Aidoo who is Tennessee’s biggest X-Factor.

While Aidoo is averaging 11.8 points per game through the 2023-2024 regular season, the Vols’ junior big man has scored fewer than his season average in five of Tennessee’s six losses including a six-point outing against both Texas A&M and South Carolina. There’s a clear correlation between Aidoo’s scoring impact and inside presence relating to the Vols’ overall game production. A strong night from Aidoo gives Tennessee more balance, better spacing, and more offensive variation in addition to all of the rim protection that he does well on the defensive end.

More from RTI: Three Quick Takeaways As Tennessee Annihilates Arkansas In Fayetteville

Tennessee also failed to score 70 points or more in four of those six losses, showing just how impactful Aidoo’s scoring ability and inside presence is to get the whole offense working.

The Arkansas game was an example of what happens when the balance is operating efficiently from different spots on the court.

“I KNEW this would be the Aidoo game,” the same Arkansas graduate followed up with 42 minutes after the first text.

Aidoo was a pain for the Razorback players to play against and a pain for the Arkansas fanbase to watch as he racked up a double-double en route to the second-worst loss in Bud Walton Arena history.

When asked after the game if Aidoo can be a nightly double-double type of player, Rick Barnes was confident in his answer.

“He is,” the Tennessee head coach said. “He just played with more force. That’s what it was all about. And he’s got to continue to do it.”

No. 8 Tennessee dismantled Arkansas by a score of 92-63 on Wednesday night in Fayetteville behind Aidoo’s remarkable showing. While the Vols and the Razorbacks traded punches throughout the first half like two boxers from seasoned coaches, Tennessee put their foot on the gas in the final 20 minutes and found a bounce-back win as the race for the SEC regular season crown heats up.

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