Tennessee basketball reached the SEC Tournament title game for the first time in nine years, beating Arkansas 84-66 in a semifinal game on Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Jordan Bone scored 19 points to pace five Vols who scored in double figures. Admiral Schofield scored 16, and SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams was one of three Tennessee players with 12 points, joined by James Daniel lll and Kyle Alexander.
The Vols (25-7) play Kentucky (23-10) at 1 p.m. on Sunday hoping to win the SEC Tournament for the first time since Don DeVoe’s 1979 Vols beat the Wildcats in the tourney title game in Birmingham, Ala. (75-69, OT). That was also the last time Tennessee beat Kentucky three times in one season.
Tennessee beat the Wildcats in both meetings this season, 76-65 in Knoxville (Jan. 6) and 61-59 in Lexington (Feb. 6).
Kentucky reached the SEC tournament title game by beating Alabama (19-15) earlier on Saturday, 86-63.
The Vols took command against the Razorbacks (23-11) midway through the first half, hitting 11 of their first 12 shots and using a 17-2 run to pull away for their sixth straight victory.
Tennessee led 19-17 at the 10:07 mark when Bone hit a 3-pointer to spark the run.
The Vols were up 48-29 at the half thanks to 76-percent shooting from the floor including 7 of 8 (87.5-percent) from beyond the 3-point arc through the first 20 minutes.
“I wish we could bottle that and do it again,” Barnes said during his ESPN halftime interview. “I hope we can be that good on offense again. You almost feel like you’re in a dream, a little bit.”
Arkansas failed to get closer than 11 points in the second half.
Tennessee outscored Arkansas by 18 points when Alexander was on the floor on Saturday. Alexander shared rebounding honors with Schofield (7) and had two blocked shots. The Vols were outscored by 2 points the nine minutes Derrick Walker was in the game.
Bone and Daniel were on fire in the first half. The guards went a combined 10 of 10 from the floor through the first 20 minutes, each 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point mark. Bone had 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the game and 17 of his team-high 19 in the first half.
Dick Vitale likes Barnes
ESPN commentator Dick Vitale said at halftime of the Vols’ game that “My choice is Rick Barnes” when discussing the national coach of the year vote. Barnes was named the SEC Coach of the Year last week.
Tennessee basketball boxscores