KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grant Williams’ knack for making baskets while drawing contact keeps paying dividends for Tennessee.
Williams had 22 points and 10 rebounds as No. 3 Tennessee trounced Wake Forest 83-64 on Saturday for its sixth consecutive victory. The Southeastern Conference scoring leader converted a trio of three-point plays in the first 14½ minutes of the game.
“He’s got a 6-11 wingspan and the one thing he’s added to his game is that high-release jump shot, and he can take a hit,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s what he does. He can deliver one, but he can take one, too. He can score through contact.”
Williams, a 6-foot-7 forward, has made just 10 3-pointers since the start of the 2017-18 season but has become a master of the conventional three-point play. He often points that out to teammate Admiral Schofield, who has made a team-high 25 3s.
“They’re fun because it’s my way of getting three points,” said Williams, who had 17 points by halftime. “I always joke with Admiral, you can get three (from 3-point range), but I’ll get the three inside. It’s kind of a little comedy thing that we have.”
Kyle Alexander scored a career-high 19 points and had 8 rebounds to help Tennessee (10-1) extend its home winning streak to 15 games. The Volunteers haven’t lost at Thompson-Boling Arena since last season, falling 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2.
The Vols improved to 3-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference schools. Tennessee beat Georgia Tech 66-53 on Nov. 13 and defeated Louisville 92-81 on Nov. 21.
“They played the way they’ve been playing all year long,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “They’re a very veteran, poised team.”
Chaundee Brown scored 19 points and Brandon Childress added 14 for Wake Forest (6-4). Jordan Bone had 18 points and Schofield scored 12 for Tennessee.
The game went back and forth for the first 15 minutes before Tennessee closed the first half with a 15-5 run to grab a 42-30 lead. The Vols then opened the second half with a 16-6 spurt to build a 22-point edge.
Tennessee eventually led by as many as 27.
“We focus a lot on the last four minutes of every half, really closing out halves,” Alexander said. “I think when we had our media timeout, Coach Barnes mentioned in the huddle, he challenged us to lock up and defend and make a run with Bone because Bone likes to get down the court … to really get out there and run with him and lock up and not foul. Guys did that.”
Wake Forest: This game continued a season-long pattern for the Demon Deacons, who have struggled defensively in all their losses. Wake Forest is 6-0 this season when it gives up fewer than 80 points but is 0-4 when it allows more than 80.
Tennessee: The Vols went 32 of 60 from the floor, the third straight game in which they’ve shot over 50 percent. Tennessee shot 51.9 percent (27 of 52) in a 102-92 victory at Memphis and shot a season-high 57.9 percent (33 of 57) in an 83-70 win over Samford. Tennessee was only 3 of 13 from 3-point range but had 42 points in the paint.
Tennessee reserve John Fulkerson returned to action after a shoulder problem prevented him from playing Wednesday against Samford. Fulkerson went scoreless in nine minutes.
The Vols played a fifth straight game without Lamonte’ Turner, the 2017-18 SEC co-sixth man of the year. Turner has appeared in just three games this season because of a shoulder injury.
BONE STAYS HOT
Bone had five assists and only one turnover to go along with his 18 points.
The junior guard said Barnes spoke to him for about 90 minutes after Tuesday’s practice to discuss the coach’s expectations for him. In the two games since, Bone has averaged 21 points and 8 assists.
Wake Forest hosts Gardner-Webb on Dec. 29.
Tennessee hosts Tennessee Tech on Dec. 29.
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