No. 21 Tennessee (9-2) defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 79-60 on Saturday inside Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem. With the win, Tennessee remains undefeated on the road and is now 3-1 against ACC opponents this season.
“We are who we say we are,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “We’re gonna find a way to get stops and win this game. And we did.”
Early foul trouble kept Tennessee’s key players on the bench for most of the first half. Sophomore forward Grant Williams fouled a Wake Forest player only seconds after tipoff. After each picking up two personal fouls, Williams and junior forward Admiral Schofield exited the game and would not return until the second half.
Wake Forest (7-5) would take advantage of Williams’ and Schofields’ absence in the post and would outrebound the Vols 19-11 in the first half. The Deacons, however, could not capitalize because of its 11 turnovers in the first half alone.
Offensively for the Demon Deacons, Keyshawn Woods led with 14 points in the first half which allowed the team to keep the game close, as the score was 36-35 at halftime. Woods was relatively quiet – as was the rest of the Wake Forest team – in the second half, only scoring four points.
Tennessee’s bench stepped up in the first half with Williams and Schofield sitting out. At halftime, junior forward Kyle Alexander had three rebounds and nine points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field.
The Vols looked much better in the second half and would have no problem pulling away on their way to the win. The visitors spread the ball effectively against a waning Wake Forest side with five different Tennessee players finishing the game with double-digit points.
“Give Tennessee credit,” Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning said. “They made plays and did some good things to prevent us from being as successful as you want it to be offensively.”
Sophomore guard Jordan Bowden drained a three-point shot with 3:48 left in the game to put Tennessee up 69-60 and end Wake Forest’s hopes of a comeback as it would be unable to score anymore points. The Vols finished the remainder of the game on a 16-2 run.
Bowden finished the game with 17 points behind five three-pointers and two free throws.
The Volunteers will remain on the road as they head to Fayetteville on Dec. 30 to face Arkansas in their first SEC matchup of the season after Christmas break. The game will tip at 1 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
“We know that we’ve got to get better,” Barnes said. “I think our guys realize it.”
Edited by Ben McKee
Photo by Brad Blackwelder