No. 3 Tennessee overcomes pesky Memphis team in 102-92 win
Third-ranked Tennessee started strong Saturday, stopping several Memphis runs en route to a 102-92 victory to mark the Vols’ first win over the Tigers since 2011.
With just over four minutes remaining in the second half of No. 3 Tennessee’s Saturday matchup against Memphis, Tiger forward Kyvon Davenport sliced into the lane for two of his 18 consecutive points during the final period.
Davenport finished with 31, and Penny Hardaway’s team notched 92 points in front of an electric crowd, but neither proved enough to overcome a Tennessee team that answered each Tiger run en route to a 102-92 win at the FedEx Forum.
This win marks the Vols’ first win against the Tigers since 2011, and it snaps the three-game streak that Memphis held until the series’ five-year hiatus after the 2013 season.
It also gave Tennessee its first true road test of the season, one that Rick Barnes’ team handled in poised fashion amidst a raucous, Tiger blue-clad audience of 18,528.
At one point, Schofield was heckled while standing at the scorer’s table preparing to check into the game.
The moment didn’t appear to faze the Tennessee standout, who strutted off the floor afterward while popping the “Tennessee” emblazoned across his chest.
“We know that we are loved here in Memphis,” Schofield said afterward with the slightest hint of a smirk. “The fans really showed it out there tonight. The biggest thing for us was coming in and making a statement for our program on a big stage that we felt was big for our state.
“I just had to let them know. UT is still on top.”
The Vols started off on top as well, jumping out to a 19-5 lead before Memphis snapped into action.
The Tigers responded with a quick 6-0 run after four more points from the Vols, which staved off a pesky Memphis defense for a 50-35 halftime lead.
Through the first half, the Tigers connected on just 10 of 37 attempts from inside the arc, and they found the net on just two of 14 3-pointers.
That changed during a break that separated what Memphis coach Penny Hardaway called “a tale of two halves.”
Davenport crammed home a slam to spark the second 20 minutes for the Tigers, who eventually pulled to within seven.
But thanks to an Admiral Schofield three-point play, that was as close as Memphis got in the second half.
The Tennessee senior, who finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, found his way into the lane for a layup, drew the foul and made his one free-throw to put the Vols back at a 10-point lead that wavered no more.
Schofield’s double-double comes just six days after his 30-point performance to drop No. 1 Gonzaga, which marked the Vols’ first win against a No. 1-ranked team since 2010.
Following Schofield’s play, Tennessee continued to overpower the Tigers on both ends of the floor.
The Vols flexed their size inside, grabbing 25 rebounds to the Tigers’ 20 and sending four blocks careening onto the hardwood.
Near the end of the matchup, Tennessee’s Jordan Bone got into a scuffle with Memphis’ Alex Lomax and Jeremiah Martin.
Each team offered a different account on the matter.
According to Hardaway, Lomax was simply defending himself against a talkative Jordan Bone.
“Alex is a kid that is not going to talk trash,” Hardaway said. “Obviously, Jordan Bone said something to him disrespectfully. He protected himself by saying something back. Jeremiah (Martin) jumped in and said something to Jordan Bone. The referee teched Jeremiah up.”
Hardaway also insisted that Tennessee’s bench cleared and that the players’ fists appeared “balled up” in what Hardaway referred to as a “stand off.”
Tennessee’s players offered a different take.
“I just know someone said something to Bone,” Jordan Bowden said. “Bone, we got a lot of pride for ourselves. Bone stayed up and walked up to him. I had his back, I had to walk up to him and make sure everything was cool. The refs T’d us up because there were some words going at each other.”
Balled fists or not, Tennessee left Memphis with a win under its belt, and that’s all that Schofield and Barnes focused on before the Vols headed back to Knoxville.
“The rivalry is definitely renewed,” Schofield said. “They are probably going to be very motivated for next year’s game. I’m proud of how we came in and handled business.”
“We knew we were going to have to play,” Barnes added. “Even though it wasn’t exactly the way we would have liked to play it, we got a win against a good team.”
Up next, Tennessee will face Samford on Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on SEC Network+.
Featured image courtesy of Jake Nichols.
Sports editor Jake Nichols has been part of the TNJN staff in two different capacities. His freshman and sophomore years, Jake worked as a staff writer before moving on to write for Rocky Top Insider, and he also worked with VFL Films and the SEC Network for a semester his junior year. When asked the summer before his senior year to return to TNJN as the sports editor, Jake jumped at the chance to end his time in Knoxville working with the organization he first began with as a freshman. Jake is excited to help lead younger writers, much like former editors Cody McClure and Jordan Dajani aided him. Jake also does freelance sports coverage and photography for The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., and in his spare time, he can be found with family, his girlfriend or driving his Jeep, most likely with his Canon in tow. Be sure and follow Jake on Twitter and Instagram at @jnichols_2121, and keep up with TNJN Sports on Twitter as well!