Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN was filled with orange and white for the first SEC tournament game for the Tennessee Volunteers. The Strength and Condition Coach, as they call him, “G” , was the one called upon to fly, because #OneFlyWeAllFly .
The Bulldogs kept it close throughout most of the game, despite Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams getting out to a great start. Kyle recorded 8 pts, 4 boards, went 4-6 from the field, had 2 steals and 2 blocks through the first half, while Grant had 10 pts, 3 boards, 1 steal and was 5-11 from the field. Second chance points killed the Vols where Mississippi State had a slight advantage on the offensive glass. Admiral Schofield also came out with ferocious effort and energy, but the Vols would allow State to pull it within 6 going into the half. Here’s what the scene looked like after 20.
Quinndary Weatherspoon carried the dogs in the first half and led the surge at the end of the first half. Q and Aric Holman would continue to carry the team throughout the second half, while the Vols allowed for State to stay in the game with poor defense to start the second half. Jordan Bone also showed off his blow-by quickness multiple times in transition and absolutely cut through transition defense like a hot knife through butter. John Fulkerson solidified his spot as a key role player off the bench with 10 minutes, 2 pts, 3 boards, 1 steal and 1 block. Grant did what everyone expects the SEC P.O.Y. to do by absolutely dominating the dogs, but found foul trouble early in the second half, acquiring his third foul before the 11 minute mark. Shortly after Grant sitting, Admiral decided to blow the roof off of Bridgestone Arena with the murderous poster of a State freshman, and we will not share his name because THIS MAN HAS A FAMILY. Grant perfectly exemplifies everyone’s thoughts on the slam.
The Bulldogs would consequently use their final timeout with 9:20 left in the half, which is insane, but when VolNation is #FeedingTheFloor , you’ve got to try and mitigate that advantage. Mississippi State would hang just outside of reach of the lead and finish losing to the Vols 83-76. Grant finished the night fouling out with 47.8 seconds left with 16 points on 8 of 17 shooting, 4 boards, a block and a steal. Admiral collected 20 points on 9 of 12 from the field with 7 boards and 2 assists. Alexander and Bone both played great with Kyle scoring 16 on 8-11 with 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 steals and Bone scoring 14 with 9 assists and 4 rebounds. Lamonte Turner also came out in a distribution role that worked very well for the Vols racking up 5 points with 8 assists and 4 steals. Turner has struggled recently with not shooting over 30% from the 3 point line in the last 6 games, and only shooting over 40% from the field once in those games. Despite this, Turner has posted a 2.72 Assist Turnover Ratio. If Turner can continue to distribute the basketball while his shooting struggles continue, and the Vols keep on the upswing of how they are playing, they will be a very hard out for anyone in the rest of the SEC tournament and the big dance.
Featured Image via Tennessee Basketball Twitter (@Vol_Hoops)