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No. 5 Tennessee struggles but cruises on past Georgia Tech

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In a game with all the subtlety of a punch in the mouth, No. 5 Tennessee held Georgia Tech to 27.6 percent field-goal shooting Tuesday night and took a 66-53 win at Knoxville, Tenn.

Forward Grant Williams paced the Volunteers (3-0) with 22 points and eight rebounds and left some points on the floor. He missed six of his 16 free throws. Jordan Bone contributed 15 points, and Kyle Alexander added 12.

The result gave Tennessee coach Rick Barnes his 664th career win, tying him with John Wooden on the all-time wins list.


Brandon Alston scored 16 points to pace the Yellow Jackets (1-1), but no one else could consistently solve Tennessee's physical man-to-man defense. Georgia Tech stayed in contention by defending well, limiting the Vols to 39.6 percent from the floor, but couldn't exert any real game pressure because it wasn't able to can shots.

The Yellow Jackets' only lead was for 55 seconds after Abdoulaye Gueye registered a putback on their first possession. Tennessee countered with an 11-3 run, Alexander and Williams taking turns scoring inside, and never trailed after that.

Jalen Johnson sank a 3-pointer with 6:59 left in the half to give the Vols their first double-figure lead of the evening at 27-15. Two foul shots by Moses Wright pulled Georgia Tech within 30-25 at the 2:05 mark, but Tennessee upped the advantage to 33-25 at halftime.

Gueye's finger roll with 11:35 remaining in the game cut the Yellow Jackets' deficit to 42-35, but the Volunteers answered back. Alexander's 3-pointer started a 10-2 run that Williams finished with a floater at the 8:11 mark for a 52-37 advantage.

Alston sank two free throws with 1:51 left to pull Georgia Tech within 59-51, but Williams put the game away with a runner in traffic at the 1:21 mark to restore a 10-point lead. The game's remainder was a foul-filled slog to the final horn.

Tennessee went 24-of-38 at the foul line, while the Yellow Jackets were 18-of-21.

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I watched that game last night. It was sloppy. Grant Williams looked good but there was a lot of missed shots like dunks and clankers. The play was sloppy and it is good to get this out of the way. This gives Rick Barnes something to jump on them about. This a training and improvement identification type of game. Like the guy said last night on ESPN, this is a game they would use to lose. They played sloppy and still won going away so while ugly it actually might be a good sign

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I didn't see the game last night but I did watch the Louisana game last Friday night when they were clicking and Williams and Schofield were unstoppable. The Rajun Cajuns are no pushover in hoops so it's good to be tested in the pre-conference part of the season. And a good testing and credential building tourney in Brooklyn coming up next week. 

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