KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball moved a step closer to being on the NCAA tournament’s proverbial “bubble” Saturday afternoon, knocking off Kansas State 70-58.
The Vols (12-9) outrebounded and outmuscled a bigger, more experienced Wildcats team throughout the afternoon in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Coach Rick Barnes’ team kept Kansas State (15-6) at arm’s length throughout the second half, leading by as many as 19 and not allowing the Wildcats to get closer than nine.
Tennessee’s 23 second-chance points were the most it has recorded this season, coming off 15 offensive rebounds as the Vols controlled the glass 43-29.
UT freshman post Grant Williams scored the first eight points of the second half for Tennessee en route to a team-high 17 points to go with 6 rebounds.
Freshman Jordan Bowden scored 13 points and freshman point guard Jordan Bone had 5 assists and 1 turnover for the Vols.
The Vols beat Kansas State in Knoxville two seasons ago in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, 65-64, and now lead the all-time series 2-0.
Tennessee basketball player of the game
Sophomore Kyle Alexander set the tone with his career-high 9 rebounds. Alexander also scored 8 points, the most since he scored 13 in the 103-94 win over Appalachian State on Nov. 15.
Tennessee basketball stat of the game
The Vols closed the first half on a 9-0 run sparked by a pair of Robert Hubbs jump shots to take a decisive 39-22 lead into intermission. Hubbs finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Tennessee basketball vs. Kansas State box score
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) January 28, 2017
Tennessee fans cheer “Leeeeewww!” every time Lew Evans touches the ball, and he had 9 points and 5 rebounds on Saturday.
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 28, 2017
Up next for Tennessee basketball
The Vols return to action on Tuesday night at Auburn against former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl and the Tigers. The game tips at 9 p.m. ET and will be televised by the SEC Network
Full slate of SEC-Big 12 Challenge games
The Big 12 has gotten the better of the SEC the previous three years of the so-called “challenge,” leading the series 20-10 entering this year.
Tennessee 70, Kansas State 58
Florida 84, Oklahoma 52
Texas Tech 77, LSU 64
Oklahoma State 99, Arkansas 71
Georgia 59, Texas 57
Vanderbilt 84, Iowa State 78
Auburn at TCU, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Baylor at Ole Miss, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Kansas at Kentucky, 6:15 p.m., ESPN
South Carolina at Missouri, 8:30 p.m., SECN