Guard play and defense dominated Saturday afternoon, as No. 22 Tennessee (15-5) traveled to Ames, Iowa and beat Iowa State 68-45 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
“It was a great win in a special place,” Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes said following his 650th career win. “This is one of the special places in the country to play and one day they will look back on it.”
Guard play led the Vols, as the group scored 45 of the team’s points. Lamonte Turner and James Daniel alone scored 36 points – more than the rest of their teammates combined.
“I thought (Turner) was good,” Barnes said. “I thought he had a great poise about him, great demeanor. It was a good day for him.”
Turner knocked down a career-high six three-pointers on his way to 20 points while also snagging five rebounds and assisting on two buckets. In the second half alone, Turner shot 5-for-5 from the floor and 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
“We could have shot a three every time down the floor, the way they were playing,” Barnes said of his team’s ability to make shots from the perimeter. The Vols knocked down 12 three-pointers. “I did like the way we were attacking.”
Daniel on the other hand, scored 16 points – one-point shy of his season-high – on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and 3-of-7 from beyond-the-arc.
“I knew I’d get a couple of shots because of the way they play Grant and Admiral,” Daniel said. “They pay them a lot of attention, and us guards have to make them pay for it.”
While Turner led the way, Daniel sparked Tennessee in the first half while the team was struggling. Fourteen of Daniel’s points came in the opening frame on 5-of-6 shooting.
Tennessee took a 2-0 lead on its first possession of the game thanks to a Kyle Alexander offensive rebound and put-back, but the offense struggled for the first ten minutes play.
Iowa State (11-9) took an early 5-2 lead, as the Vols started off just 1-for-9 from the field. In the opening ten minutes of play, Tennessee went on two stretches of at least three minutes without scoring.
Then, Turner picked up a steal, threw it ahead to Jordan Bone, and the sophomore point guard threw it down for a rare dunk that swung momentum in the Vols’ favor.
With Iowa State beginning to struggle to knock down shots and the Vols out-rebounding the Cyclones 19-9, Daniel sparked a 16-2 run to end the half. Thanks to a couple of Daniel three’s and an and-one, Tennessee led 31-19 at the half.
In the opening half, the Vols won all of the hustle stats. Tennessee out-rebounded Iowa State 29-18, led 20-2 in bench points and 15-2 in second-chance points. While shooting just 31 percent from the floor, winning the hustle stats allowed the Vols to build a double-digit halftime lead.
Barnes’ squad picked up right where it left off in the second half. Tennessee’s 16-2 run to end the first half grew into a 32-7 run to start the second half. The Cyclones never recovered. The Vols held at least a 15-point lead for the final 18 minutes of play.
Along with Daniel and Turner’s big performances, junior forward Admiral Schofield chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds. Alexander and Grant Williams weren’t efficient on the offensive end, but both hauled in 10 rebounds as Tennessee out-rebounded Iowa State 49-31.
Donovan Jackson was the lone Cyclone to reach double-figures on the afternoon, scoring 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
Iowa State’s 45 points is the fewest points the Cyclones have scored in 45 years and the fewest scored in a home game since 1959.
Having won six of its last seven, Tennessee now returns home to take on LSU in Thomson-Boling on Wednesday night. The game is set to tip at 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
Edited by Seth Raborn
Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics