In the 500th game at Thompson Boling Arena, No. 6 Tennessee toppled Eastern Kentucky 95-67 on Wednesday night.
From the tip, No. 6 Tennessee imposed its will on the Colonels, controlling the game from wire to wire.
Yven Pons got his first career start, and he finished with 10 points, five rebounds and an assist.
Pons made an impact early, as he knocked down a 3-pointer. Throughout the night, he legitimized his opportunity to be a starter for the Vols in the future.
While Pons’s performance was solid, Vols head coach Rick Barnes still wasn’t satisfied.
“If he would’ve made his free throws tonight, he really would’ve put together a really good performance,” Barnes said. “He’s a guy that we are watching every day get better and better.”
Grant Williams led the way with 21 points, and he was followed by Admiral Schofield, who posted 20.
For the Colonels, Nick Mayo led the team with 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Eastern Kentucky only had one other player in double figures, as Jomaru Brown finished with 14 points. Neither was enough to overcome a feisty Tennessee team.
The Vols came out hot playing solid defense, and working hard inside the paint by controlling the glass early. Tennessee outrebounded Eastern Kentucky 33-17 in the first half.
Offensively, the Vols looked sharp and moved the ball well, as 16 of their 18 field goals came off assists.
The fluidity on offense translated well, as Tennessee shot 49 percent from the field and 29 percent frombeyond the arc.
Barnes seemed impressed with his team’s first-half showing, but the Vols’ second-half performance left Barnes displeased.
“I liked our defense in the first half, but in the second we just went through the motions,” Barnes said.
Against Kansas, Tennessee took just 17 trips to the charity stripe. While the Vols improved on drawing fouls, they only made 57 percent of those shots in the first half.
Lamonté Turner was given some more time in the second half after not starting on Wednesday, though Barnes still seemed uneasy about Turner’s play.
”I thought Lamonte Turner (took) way too many tough shots tonight, and didn’t let the offense work,” Barnes said.
Despite the dissatisfaction, Tennessee still set its season record for points in a game with 95.
Tennessee finished the night shooting just over 50 percent from the field and 25 percent from behind the arc.
The Vols also outrebounded Eastern Kentucky 50-32, and they improved their free throw shooting percentage to 72 percent after the meager 57 percent from the first half.
Defensively, Tennessee held the Colonels to 36 percent from the field and 28 percent from behind the arc.
Tennessee’s next matchup will be against Texas A&M- Corpus-Christi at home on Sunday, December 2. Tip-off is set for 12:00 PM EST on the SEC Network.