No. 13 Tennessee shuts down McNeese 76-40

Nov 30, 2022, 4:22 AM | Updated: 7:53 pm
Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi (25) passes the ball off as he's defended by McNeese State forward...

Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi (25) passes the ball off as he's defended by McNeese State forward Roberts Berze (10) and guard Rhyjon Blackwell (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

              McNeese State guard Trae English (1) is fouled by Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
            
              FILE - Indiana forward Mackenzie Holmes (54) saves the ball from going out of bounds during the second half of the tema's NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee, Nov. 14, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. Five players, including Grace Berger, are averaging at least 10 points. The group is led by 6-foot-3 forward Holmes (20.0), a two-time all-conference selection coming off an injury-plagued 2021-22. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)
            
              McNeese State forward Malachi Rhodes (23) works for a shot against Tennessee forward Jonas Aidoo (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
            
              Tennessee forward Jonas Aidoo (0) blocks the shot of McNeese State forward Malachi Rhodes (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
            
              McNeese State guard Harwin Francois (22) passes the ball off as he battled it away from Tennessee forward Uros Plavsic during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
            
              Tennessee forward Julian Phillips (2) dunks against McNeese State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
            
              McNeese State guard Trae English (1) passes the ball off as he's defended by Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) and forward Julian Phillips during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
            
              Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi (25) passes the ball off as he's defended by McNeese State forward Roberts Berze (10) and guard Rhyjon Blackwell (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Santiago Vescovi scored 16 points to lead No. 13 Tennessee to a 76-40 victory over McNeese on Wednesday night.

The Volunteers (6-1) won their fifth straight game and their first since winning the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Julian Phillips scored 12 points, Olivier Nkamhoua had 11 and Tyreke Key added 10. Jonas Aidoo had five blocks and six rebounds.

“We wanted to be aggressive,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. “It was good that we didn’t let the fact that we weren’t very good on offense (in the first half).”

“If you go here, you’ve gotta love playing defense,” said Aidoo, a 6-foot-11 sophomore. “I loved blocking shots.”

Tennessee’s defense limited McNeese to 29% from the field (16 of 56) and 12% from 3-point (2-17).

“You come to these games, you want to compete,” said McNeese coach John Aiken. “You want to have a better showing offensively. We didn’t get any separation.”

The Cowboys (2-6) were led by Christian Shumate and Trae English with eight each.

The Vols struggled from the field (9 of 26, 35%) but still led 30-14 at intermission. The Cowboys had just one assist and hit 24% from the field (6 of 26). They were 0 of 7 from 3-point.

The residual benefit from the tournament championship should pay dividends in the future.

“Last week’s tournament was good for us,” said Phillips. “We’re playing every game like it’s the championship game.”

NEWS & NOTES

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes has put the ball in Josiah-Jordan James’ court. The senior will decide when he is ready to return from knee soreness after offseason surgery. He went through warmups but didn’t dress for the game. …. McNeese came into the game as the worst free-throw shooting team in the country (54.2%). … Cowboys starting guard Zach Scott did not make the two-game swing to UT Martin and Tennessee because of the flu.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Tennessee learned the tough lesson that one off night can be very costly. They opened the season at No. 11. Plummeted to No. 22 after a stunning loss to Colorado. Then, recovered to No. 13 thanks to three victories in the Bahamas.

BIG PICTURE

McNeese State: A quick turnaround was quite a challenge for the Cowboys. They dropped a three-point decision at UT Martin Monday, then had to come back Wednesday for a date with the Vols.

Tennessee: Getting Josiah-Jordan James into the regular rotation is a necessity before the Southeastern Conference season gets started. He has been slowed by offseason knee surgery and missed all three games in the Bahamas. The best thing about it was that the Vols learned they can win without him.

NEXT UP

McNeese: The Cowboys will be off until Monday night when they entertain Ecclesia.

Tennessee: The Vols will be part of a men’s-women’s doubleheader Sunday, They take on Alcorn State in the evening. Tennessee’s women’s team takes on No. 9 Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after winning a point against Karen Khachanov of Russia during ...
Associated Press

Tsitsipas beats Khachanov to reach 1st Australian Open final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Stefanos Tsitsipas had a harder time strictly following all of the rules than he did outplaying his opponent in the early going, then recovered after blowing two match points late in the third set, and eventually reached the final at the Australian Open for the first time by beating Karen Khachanov […]
1 day ago
The parents of Novak Djokovic of Serbia, father Srdjan and mother Dijana react during his post matc...
Associated Press

Djokovic’s dad to stay away from Australian Open semifinal

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic’s father decided to stay away from the 21-time Grand Slam champion’s semifinal after getting embroiled in a flap involving spectators who brought banned Russian flags to Melbourne Park, Tennis Australia said Friday. In a release e-mailed to reporters about 2 1/2 hours before Djokovic was scheduled to face Tommy […]
1 day ago
Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey (7) shoots against San Antonio Spurs center Gorgui Dieng (41...
Associated Press

Clippers extend win streak to 4 with 138-100 rout of Spurs

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If anyone needed any proof of how confident Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers are feeling, it came late in the second quarter of their game against the San Antonio Spurs. George stole the ball from Zach Collins after a bad pass by Stanley Johnson, dribbled down the court and […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) celebrates a three pointer against the Phoenix Suns d...
Associated Press

Dinwiddie scores 36, Mavs top Suns 99-95 after Doncic hurt

PHOENIX (AP) — Luka Doncic’s early injury on Thursday night gave the Dallas Mavericks a very valid reason to lose on the road. Instead, Spencer Dinwiddie responded to the adversity with a season-high 36 points, Dorian Finney-Smith added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and the Mavs held on for a 99-95 victory over the Phoenix […]
1 day ago
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson, right, battles for the puck with Calgary Flames forward...
Associated Press

Stauber wins again, Blackhawks beat Flames 5-1

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Two games into his NHL career, Blackhawks rookie goaltender Jaxson Stauber is playing like a poised veteran. Stauber stopped 34 shots for his second consecutive win and 13 players contributed a point as Chicago beat the Calgary Flames 5-1 Thursday night. “Looks really solid and calm in there,” Blackhawks coach Luke […]
1 day ago
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus celebrates after defeating Magda Linette of Poland during their semifina...
Associated Press

Rybakina meets Sabalenka in Australian Open women’s final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka figures she’ll feel some jitters when she steps out on court to face Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open women’s final. Saturday’s contest is, after all, Sabalenka’s first singles title match at a Grand Slam tournament. Rybakina is more familiar with this stage: She won Wimbledon a little more […]
1 day ago
No. 13 Tennessee shuts down McNeese 76-40