Dec. 03, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Quinton Stephens scored 15 points, leading four Georgia Tech players in double figures, but the Yellow Jackets fell behind early and lost their second straight game on the road, 81-58, to Tennessee Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Shembari Phillips and Grant Williams each scored 14 points against the Yellow Jackets, who hadn’t trailed a game by more than eight points all season before Saturday.
”Overall, that’s something we can continue to build on,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said of his team’s defensive effort. ”That’s got to really be the staple of who we are.”
Tennessee (3-3) was returning from a nine-day layoff after going 1-2 in the Maui Invitational last week, but it was Georgia Tech that looked like it hadn’t played in over a week. Tennessee stayed in control virtually the entire way and led by as many as 28 points.
Georgia Tech (4-3) played without usual starting guard Justin Moore, who stayed in Atlanta because of a stomach virus. Josh Heath, who made 15 starts in 2015-16, started in Moore’s place and scored just two points while shooting 0 for 7.
”Our mentality has been attack, attack, attack,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. ”We played `un-attack’ today. We played real passive. I was disappointed in our energy level. That falls on my shoulders. Hopefully I can analyze and examine some things and decide what we can do to get better.”
Tennessee was playing its third straight game without Jordan Bone, who has a stress fracture in his left foot. Bone had been Tennessee’s starting point guard before his injury. The Vols also played a third straight game without forward Admiral Schofield due to a violation of team rules.
The Vols overcame the absence of those two guys by getting big contributions from just about everyone who did play.
Williams’ 14 points represented a career high for the freshman forward. Phillips, a natural shooting guard playing point guard for now, had five rebounds and a career-high seven assists with only one turnover.
”I feel like I can play off the ball and I can play on the ball,” Phillips said. ”Whatever the team needs at the time… if somebody steps up and (Barnes) feels like they’re doing a better job than me, I’ll move back to the wing. But personally I do enjoy playing the point. I’m going to continue to get better at it every day.”
John Fulkerson scored 12 points and Robert Hubbs III added 10 points for Tennessee.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ offense didn’t look quite the same without Moore, who averages a team-high 4.8 assists per game. Georgia Tech shot a season-low 32.7 percent from the floor and committed a season-high 19 turnovers.
UP NEXT: Georgia Tech: At VCU on Wednesday.