By: Brian Akins / @BrianWNML
Tennessee opened their season against the Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne in an exciting fashion, with an 86-41 victory. I am going to give five takeaways from the Vols’ runaway victory in their season opener.
1.Guard play shined: Tennessee’s guard play looked really dominant in the season opener. Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden and Admiral Schofield played solid basketball against the Bears. Schofield tallied 13 points, Bone scored 18 points and Bowden put up 11 points. The Vols’ guards moved the ball around effectively and efficiently to cruise past Lenoir-Rhyne.
2.Yves Pons is a freak athlete: Pons once again showed what a great athlete he is in game one of the season. In the first half, Jordan Bowden attempted a three pointer that bounced off the back iron where Pons went up to grab the offensive rebound and slam it down. Yves Pons also had three impressive blocks and also had 5 rebounds and scored 7 points.
Yves Pons almost hit his head on the rim on his 1st of 3 blocks. Check out his put back slam too. pic.twitter.com/w2YlvdL98i
— Patrick Murray (@PatMurrayWBIR) November 7, 2018
3.The Vols’ defense showed up: The Vol defense did damage to Lenoir-Rhyne’s offensive efforts all night long. Tennessee tallied 10 blocks, 9 steals, 40 defensive rebounds and forced 17 turnovers in game one. The Vols also held the Bears to 7-35 from the behind the arc and 14-67 from the field. Tennessee’s ability to get their arms in the way of the ball was a great contributing factor for their 17 forced turnovers. Multiple times Tennessee was able to intercept a pass by simply get their hands up and in the face of their opponent. Tennessee has a lot of great promise on defense this season.
4.Grant Williams has a jump shot: 2017-18 SEC Player of the Year, Grant Williams, looked great last year with his ability to make plays in the paint beneath the basket, but this season Williams has developed a jump shot that has stretched his range all the way out to the 3-point line. Early in the game, Williams pulled up a top of the key three-pointer in the face of the defender and nailed it. That was great to see because a year ago Grant’s range stopped at about 15-20 feet out, but now he is able to step behind the arc and make shots. That not only deepens his skills, but it makes him a match up nightmare. His ability to dominate the paint makes him a great player, now he can face you up and pull up a big shot and make it.
5.Tennessee is really good: The Vols had a great campaign last season proving SEC preseason voters wrong by winning a share of the SEC, but this season is on another level with expectations. Tennessee is the AP #6 team in the country and must show up much better than last year. They did just that. The Vols dominated the floor all night long and made it a runaway by the end of the first half. By the end of the game, Tennessee boasted a 45-point victory over the Bears. Of course, Lenoir-Rhyne isn’t Duke or Kentucky, but a dominant performance in game one gets the train rolling toward a hope for a Final Four appearance in April.
Tennessee (1-0, 0-0) starts the season off on the right foot and now they host Louisiana and Georgia Tech and get ready to travel to Phoenix in a few weeks to take on #3 Gonzaga in the Jerry Colangelo Classic. The Vols will look to continue their winning ways on their way to NCAA tournament.