Bone’s career night lifts No. 3 Tennessee over Samford 83-70
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Bone listened to his coach’s advice and responded with the most productive game of his career.
Bone set career highs with 24 points and 11 assists, and No. 3 Tennessee beat Samford 83-70 on Wednesday night for its fifth consecutive victory. The junior guard said he talked with coach Rick Barnes for about 90 minutes after Tuesday’s practice as they both went over game films.
“It was really important, and I took a lot away from that conversation (about) just having a sense of urgency out there, always applying pressure and owning my spots on the court,” Bone said. “That’s what I took away from it.”
Bone’s previous career high in scoring was a 23-point performance against Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 2017. The junior guard’s previous best in assists was 10, which came against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 2. Bone shot 11 of 16 and committed only two turnovers.
“He really wants to be a good player,” Barnes said. “I think it gets back to him understanding just how talented he is and where he’s most effective.”
Admiral Schofield scored 18 points and Grant Williams had 13 of his 16 points after halftime to help Tennessee (9-1) snap Samford’s three-game winning streak. Kyle Alexander added 10 points.
Ruben Guerrero had 16 points and eight rebounds before fouling out for Samford (10-3). Kevion Nolan scored 13 points and Myron Gordon had 12. Josh Sharkey added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Tennessee seized control by going on a 16-0 run late in the first half while Williams was on the bench in foul trouble. The Southeastern Conference scoring leader picked up his second foul with 7:46 left in the first half and didn’t return until after the intermission.
Bone, Jordan Bowden and Schofield made consecutive 3-pointers to open that 16-0 spurt, which highlighted a first half full of momentum swings. That included a 12-0 run by Samford before Tennessee pulled away.
“I think we just got tired, fatigued,” Guerrero said. “We didn’t have too many players rotating. They got us. They played really, really physical.”
Samford hung around early in the second half, but its hopes for an upset took a major hit when Guerrero picked up his fourth foul at the 15:30 mark. The 7-footer didn’t return until 8:43 remained
Samford: The Bulldogs may have lost the game, but they still have reason for optimism after staying competitive most of the way in while facing a top-five opponent on the road. This loss dropped Samford’s road record to 3-2 after the Bulldogs went just 2-15 in road games last season. Samford entered the night having produced its best 12-game start since the 1960-61 season.
Tennessee: The Vols’ ability to take over while Williams was on the bench bodes well for the long term. Tennessee also continues getting a major boost from Schofield’s improved 3-point shooting. Schofield was 2 of 3 from beyond the arc Tuesday and has gone 12 of 21 on 3-point attempts over his last 3 games.
Tennessee played a fourth straight game without guard Lamonte’ Turner because of a shoulder injury. The issue has caused the 2017-18 Southeastern Conference co-sixth man of the year to appear in just three games this season.
The Vols also were missing reserve forward John Fulkerson, also due to a shoulder injury. Barnes said Fulkerson could have played if necessary.
Tennessee figures to stay at the No. 3 spot next week as long as it beats Wake Forest on Saturday. The Vols likely won’t move any higher until No. 1 Kansas or No. 2 Duke loses.
Tennessee outscored Samford 52-22 in the paint despite getting outrebounded 39-36. ... Schofield matched a career high with four steals. ... Sharkey flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists - but the Samford guard also had seven turnovers.
Samford hosts UNC Greensboro on Saturday.
Tennessee hosts Wake Forest on Saturday.
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