No. 7 Vols playing complete basketball ahead of game vs. EKU


No. 7 Tennessee will look to extend its winning streak to seven games when it hosts Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Volunteers (7-1) are coming off a dominating, 94-40 win over visiting Alcorn State on Sunday. Eastern Kentucky (4-4) has dropped two of its past three games, including a 97-80 loss to host James Madison on Friday.

Tennessee had six players finish in double figures against Alcorn State.

Olivier Nkamhoua had 20 points and six assists, Julian Phillips added 18 points and Uros Plavsic made all six of his shots from the field to finish with 12 points.

Jahmai Mashack chipped in 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals in his first career start, with Tyreke Key and Zakai Zeigler finishing with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Volunteers forced the Braves to shoot 27.1 percent (13 of 48) from the field, including making just one of their 16 3-point attempts. Tennessee also scored 36 points off the Braves’ 22 turnovers.

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “When you look at it, the fact that we assisted 27 on 33 baskets (helped), I guess. That’s how we’re at our best. And we were able to turn some turnovers into some baskets, obviously, that makes it easier in some ways. But that was a good defensive effort.

“Overall, I would tell you that it was our most complete game on both ends in terms of concentration.”

Santiago Vescovi, Tennessee’s leading scorer (12 points per game), could return to the lineup on Wednesday after missing the Sunday contest due to an injured left shoulder.

The Volunteers have four other double-figure scorers: Phillips (11.8 points per game), Nkamhoua (10.9), Key (10.8) and Josiah Jordan-James (10.8). Phillips leads the team in rebounding (5.1 per game), Zeigler in assists (3.5 per game) and Vescovi in steals (2.6 per game).

The Colonels trailed 48-34 at halftime against James Madison but pulled within 48-42 on Devontae Blanton’s 3-pointer with 18:38 remaining. However, the Dukes scored the next four points and went on to lead by as many as 23 points to turn a close game into a rout.

Eastern Kentucky had four players finish in double figures, led Devontae Blanton, who had 17 points and five rebounds. Tayshawn Comer added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. Isaiah Cozart chipped in 11 points and five rebounds, and John Ukomadu logged with 10 points and four rebounds.

Eastern Kentucky finished third nationally in 3-point attempts last year, making 363 of 1,029 shots (35.3 percent).

This season, the Colonels are ranked 25th through eight games, averaging 27.9 attempts per game, going 84 of 223 (27.9 percent).

“We love shooting the three, but what we want to do this year and what we want to do every year is get good-rhythm threes,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I love our team this year because we have multiple guys who can get in the paint and make plays for other people. We might not make as many 3-point shots, but our percentage will go up, and that’s what we look at.”

–Field Level Media

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