KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grant Williams had 21 points and 11 rebounds as No. 6 Tennessee bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 95-67 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday night.
Tennessee (5-1) was playing for the first time since falling 87-81 in overtime to No. 2 Kansas on Friday at the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York.
This game didn’t have nearly as much suspense.
Eastern Kentucky (3-4) and Tennessee were tied 11-all seven minutes into the game before the Volunteers scored 13 straight points to pull ahead for good. After Lachlan Anderson’s 3-pointer cut Tennessee’s lead to 24-14, the Vols scored eight straight points to complete a 21-3 spurt.
The Vols altered their starting lineup for the first time this season, with sophomore Yves Pons making his first career start in place of Jordan Bowden.
Pons responded by getting an offensive rebound and sinking a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession. He ended up with a career-high 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in 22 minutes. Pons’ productive night included two dunks off alley-oops as well as two blocks.
Admiral Schofield scored 20 points and shot 8 of 9 from the floor for Tennessee. Jordan Bone added 14 points and seven assists. Williams had five assists to go along with his double-double.
Nick Mayo led Eastern Kentucky with 23 points and nine rebounds. Jomaru Brown added 14 points for the Colonels.
This marked only the third time that Bowden has come off the bench in a Tennessee career that has included 68 starts. The junior guard scored seven points in 20 minutes.
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels entered the night averaging 86.3 points to rank 25th among Division I teams in scoring, but they struggled more than usual against Tennessee’s stingy defense. Eastern Kentucky shot 35.6 percent and posted its lowest point total of the season. The Colonels had reached the 100-point mark in two of their first six games.
Tennessee: The Vols just got finished playing Louisville and No. 2 Kansas in New York and have games with No. 1 Gonzaga and Memphis later this month, so it would have been easy for them to overlook this matchup. That didn’t happen. Tennessee grabbed a 49-28 halftime lead and cruised from there.
Eastern Kentucky is at High Point on Saturday.
Tennessee hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday.
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