KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Vols overcame a sluggish start against Lipscomb on Thursday night, outscoring the Bisons by 24 points after halftime en route to a 92-77 win in their final home game of 2016.
Freshman forward Grant Williams led the way, scoring a career-high 30 points while adding 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Tennessee upped its defensive effort in the second half, playing better in transition and physically dominating the paint. The Vols used a pair of big runs — 17-2 and 17-0 — to turn a double-digit deficit into a blowout win.
What Vols coach Rick Barnes said …
* Asked if he delivered a stirring halftime speech? “Not really. … They were making shots and we weren’t getting there nearly quick enough. We had to stay at home more. … Overall, we played as well in the second half as they played in the first half.”
* Says Lipscomb is better than its 4-9 record.
* “The game turned on the last 90 seconds of the first half.” … Barnes noted Robert Hubbs’ two key plays (including an and-1 with 4.1 seconds) to spur comeback.
* On freshman Grant Williams’ 30 points: “That’s the most points a freshman since Chris Lofton. And he was a gunner. Grant scored 30 (points) on 12 shots.” Adds he can heckle Lofton because he’s in the building.
* “We talked about letting our post guys get shots and playing inside out. We did well getting the ball in there.”
* Admiral Schofield missed the game with an ankle injury. Remains day-to-day.
* “Shoot that looked like an NBA score in the first half (58-49). … They were confident.”
* Barnes really complementing Derrick Mostella’s performance (11 points, 7 rebounds). Said the junior guard wasn’t happy he didn’t play a lot of minutes at UNC.
* John Faulkerson has a right elbow injury. Will undergo tests Friday.
* On Hubbs performance the last couple games. “He was really upset after the North Carolina game. He wanted to win that game as much as anyone I’ve been around in a long, long time.”
* Barnes said he had a real heart-to-heart with Grant Williams on Wednesday. Said “it wasn’t a pleasant conversation.” Told the freshman forward bluntly, “You’ve disappointed me. … Tonight he did what we expected. Can he do it every night?”
* Barnes offers some kind words on Craig Sager, who passed away Thursday. “From the first time you met him you thought he was your best friend. … He’s meant a lot to basketball. … He will have a legacy will long last. He’s truly a wonderful, wonderful person.”
* On playing Gonzaga on Sunday in Nashville: “People tell me they’re Final 4 good.”