Vols gain bits of history in rout of Razorbacks

Marvin Westwestwords

Order has been restored. Tennessee got its act back together. The Vols were so good at Arkansas, they actually discouraged the Razorbacks.

Bud Walton Arena, often a house of horrors in times past, has never been so still. Fans fled. The home team looked as if it was in awe – or had lost interest. Tennessee won in a romp, 92-63. It could have been worse.

Nothing like this had ever happened in the Tennessee-Arkansas rivalry. Vols had lost seven in a row in Fayetteville. They last won in 2009. This was No. 3 among the Razorbacks’ worst home defeats in 72 seasons. It was Tennessee’s second greatest margin of victory on the road over a major foe in 49 years.

This was a meaningful bounce-back for Rick Barnes’ team from the overwhelming defeat at Texas A&M. It has officially rejoined the competition for the Southeastern Conference title. The record is 8-3.

Barnes was pleased.

“We had a game plan and we stuck to it.”

Arkansas hit three three-pointers in the early minutes, six in the first half, and trailed by only 46-40 at intermission. Tennessee did not change from its defensive commitment to prevent dribble-drives and a parade to the free-throw line.

Barnes was correct. The Razorbacks shot only 25.8 percent in the second half. They hit two additional long shots. Tennessee dominated. It won the rebounding battle. The scoring margin was 46-23.

Jonas Aidoo, pushed around at College Station, was a different competitor. He hit 11 of 14 and led all players with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Dalton Knecht scored 22 and performed much better on defense. He had two steals and three blocked shots. Alas, he missed three free throws, Tennessee’s only misfires out of 24.

Jordan Gainey was a co-star. He hit six of eight field-goal attempts (two of three threes) for 17 points in 18 minutes of playing time. Josiah-Jordan James contributed 12 points.

Guard Jordan Gainey #2, coming off the bench, scored 17 points in 18 minutes.

Barnes knew the Vols were tuned in but the outcome exceeded expectations.

“After our game the other night, our guys did a good job preparing, getting ready to come here. We had a lot of respect for Arkansas. We knew that it was capable of beating anyone in this building.

“I thought we played a really good all-around basketball game. We shot the ball well. We didn’t shoot or make as many threes as we normally do but we got a really good performance from everyone who was in the game.”

The coach said the team was pretty consistent defensively throughout, that he was proud of the concentration.

Tramon Mark, Arkansas’ leading scorer for the season, got only a few decent looks, hit four of 10 and settled for 12 points. Knecht guarded him about half the game.

Barnes had kind words for Aidoo.

Forward Jonas Aidoo #0 led all players with 23 points and 12 rebounds. “He played to the rim,” said Barnes.

“I thought he played to the rim. 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… He had a major presence on the defensive end, too.”

The coach rarely misses an opportunity to do some coaching.

“And he’s got to continue to do it.”

Barnes had a pat on the back for Gainey.

“Think about it, you go to the bench, get a guy like that coming in.”

The coach said Gainey helps Santiago Vescovi “to where Santi doesn’t feel like he has to do as much as he’s had to do in the past. I think that’s important.”

The Tennessee schedule appears favorable for the next few days. Vanderbilt comes to Food City Center on Saturday. The Vols beat the Commodores 75-62 in Nashville. The Vols play at Missouri next week. The Tigers haven’t had much luck against SEC foes.

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is marvinwest74@gmail.com.


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