KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee cruised to an 88-53 victory over Presbyterian Friday in the season opener for coach Rick Barnes’ third season.
The third year under Barnes has helped breed continuity and familiarity amongst the team.
Some usual suspects from last season stepped up and led the way for the Vols.Admiral Schofield led the team with 22 points, while Jordan Bowden added 15 to go along with Grant Williams’ 14.
The Vols had a 28-0 run in the first half after going down by two from the first basket by Presbyterian.
Senior James Daniel III started at point guard over presumed starter Jordan Bone. Daniel finished with 2 points and Bone had 9.
Daniel is known as a prolific scorer, he led the country in scoring two years ago at Howard, but he started over Bone because of his play on the other side of the court.
“We put Daniel out there to start because of his defense in the Clemson exhibition game,” Barnes said after the game. “That guy out front will get it started defensively. I thought he set a good tone for us early. All the guards went in did what we needed them to do.”
Presbyterian ranks as the No. 342 of 351 teams in college basketball this season, according to kenpom.com. It’s not a game to get carried away with the final score, but it’s encouraging the Vols handled the game exactly like they should have.
Here are three other observations from Tennessee’s season opener:
Defense played solid
The perks of returning almost the entire team from the season before is a slow learning period. The Tennessee defense looked to have complete command of the defensive scheme.
The Vols overloaded the strongside of the floor, commonly having all five on the same side as the basketball. This forced Presbyterian to force a number of tough passes to the other side of the floor.
Tennessee will have to tighten up its rotation when the ball does find its way to the other side of the court. It was impressive for the first game, though.
Presbyterian had scored 14 points at halftime while committing 13 turnovers.
Sharing is caring
Tennessee seemed in tuned to what Barnes wanted from its offense.
The players moved with a purpose and knew where the ball needed to go. Tennessee routinely made the smart pass to a teammate in better position to make a play.
There wasn’t much standing around watching the basketball get passed back and forth. This would have been an easy game to rely on athleticism to carry the team to a victory.
The Vols assisted on 25 of 30 of their baskets. John Fulkerson led the team in assists with 5.
Admiral Schofield is more comfortable closer to the basket
Schofield said multiple times of the summer he wanted to become a more perimeter-oriented player this season. The versatility would make him harder to defend and open up the offense playing alongside forward Grant Williams.
Schofield began the game hanging out beyond the 3-point line, but he quickly settled in closer to the paint. He made finished making 8-of-12 shots from the field, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.
Expect the perimeter experiment to continue throughout the season. Schofield will likely become more comfortable outside the more he plays. He did make 2 threes on the night.