No contest: Vols wallop Vandy by 35

Marvin Westwestwords

The Commodores cooperated. They gave the Vols a nice, friendly, little workout, lost 88-53, took a hot, comforting shower, quietly boarded their bus and returned to Nashville.

Competition ended early with minimum perspiration. Tennessee enjoyed what was supposedly the second largest halftime lead in 70 years. I can’t verify that. I’ve missed a few games but 51-20 was convincing – one point per minute isn’t much.

I am reasonably sure that the 35-point victory margin was the second largest in series history.

Tennessee ran its offense near enough to perfection. It had an astounding 28 assists on 33 goals and only seven turnovers. Reserves logged their most minutes of the season. UT turned a tidy profit. Fans filled Food City Center and purchased expensive concessions. They yelled and applauded excitedly without prompting.

Southeastern Conference basketball is such a fun game – for winners.

The Vols have won two in a row by runaway scores. Their league record is 9-3. They are definitely in the title race. They could win the prize if they follow the script at Missouri, knock off Alabama and Auburn, get even with Texas A&M and South Carolina and don’t slip up when Kentucky comes to town.

Jordan Gainey #2 takes the ball to the basket

Hmmm, an undefeated two-week finishing run might be asking too much.

Dalton Knecht and Zaika Zeigler led Tennessee against Vanderbilt with 14 points each. Knecht had a far-below average performance. He missed four of five three-point attempts but had four rebounds and five assists.

Ziggy hit four of five from long range, had five assists and no turnovers. Zero. Think about that.

Old-timers Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi were very lively for their age. JJJ scored 13 on five-of-seven shooting, had seven rebounds and three steals. Santi connected on four of five three-point attempts and contributed five assists.

Jonas Aidoo scored 11 and claimed eight rebounds. He blocked three shots.

Freshman Cameron Carr #43

Talented freshman Cameron Carr, 6-5 son of a former pro, put in eight points and seemed to have a jolly good time. Both of Cam’s parents are newsworthy. His dad, Chris, played six seasons in the NBA and is a coach at Drury University. His mother, Tanya, was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves dance team.

I have less personal information about Jahmai Mashack and freshman Freddie Dilone but there is news. They spoiled team shooting percentages. Shack missed five of six and Freddie three of four. His hit was a spectacular breakaway dunk.

The Vols finished at 47.8 overall and 45.2 on threes. They scored 30 in the paint. They scored 33 off 19 Vandy turnovers. They collected 25 points off fast breaks. Really, this was a rout.

Considering the accomplishments, coach Rick Barnes was relatively calm.

“Well, first half I thought we were terrific. And honestly, I really do think a lot of it has to do with the respect that we have for Vanderbilt and Coach (Jerry) Stackhouse.”

Barnes said older Vols have been through some tough games against the Commodores and understand they run really good offense. The coach praised preparation.

“Our guys came out ready to play. That’s about as good a 20 minutes as we’ve put together all year. Things were going our way. And those older guys were really the ones that were responsible for it.”

Tennessee hit its first five shots and jumped from 3-3 to 13-3. Soon it was 35-8. The visitors struggled five minutes without a field goal. The Vol defense was outstanding.

Barnes had a plan to play reserves if the score permitted. It did.

“Really pleased with the young guys trying to play the game the right way. I thought that was really important. That was not garbage time. I thought those minutes were really good for them. They respected the game.”

The coach said starters getting off light might be a factor Tuesday night at Missouri.

“I’m a big rhythm person. I think that when the team gets in a rhythm, you want to try to ride that wave. But, because they have played so many minutes this year, not playing as many may be a benefit.”

Zeigler played 24, Knecht 22, Vescovi 21, Aidoo 20 and James 18.

Barnes was asked where his team has improved.

“We’re always talking about trying to get better. And we haven’t been as consistent all the time with our fundamentals, in terms of our schemes.”

The coach took a circle route in finishing his answer.

“As a coaching staff, we’ve been able to tweak some things and do some things that maybe players have shown us where they could be effective… I think more individually where these guys really understand what each is capable of doing and that’s where we’re at our best when they do what they they’re good at and stay away from things that we’re not as good at it … Probably the biggest growth is that they’re understanding each other that way.”

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is


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