Sixth-ranked Tennessee ended the first half on a 26-4 run and coasted from there Sunday, beating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 79-51 in a nonconference game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.
Four players finished in double figures for the Volunteers (6-1), led by Admiral Schofield’s 16 points to go with four steals. Grant Williams and Jordan Bowden each scored 14 points and Kyle Alexander added 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Myles Smith canned three 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the Islanders (4-4), who simply couldn’t convert enough shots against the physical Tennessee defense. Corpus Christi sank only 32.2 percent of its field-goal attempts and made just six trips to the foul line compared to the Volunteers’ 53.1-percent shooting and 25 free throws.
Smith scored the Islanders’ first 11 points of the second half, enabling them to draw within 41-30 after he drilled a 3-ball with 15:35 left. But Tennessee went on an 11-1 run, capped by two Jordan Bone free throws with 11:41 remaining, to make it 52-31 and end the game’s competitive phase.
The Volunteers, who have a week off before next playing No. 1 Gonzaga next Sunday in Phoenix, drew assists on 20 of their 26 buckets.
The Volunteers were plagued by turnovers in their slow start. They coughed the ball up four times in the first six minutes, enabling the Islanders to grab a 10-4 lead when Irshaad Hunte canned a pullup jumper at the 15:21 mark.
Corpus Christi pushed the advantage to 15-8 as Jashawn Talton sank a jumper with 12:02 left in the half. At that point, however, Tennessee stomped all over the figurative X button and hid from the Islanders. It started when Bowden raced down the floor for a dunk seven seconds after Talton’s bucket.
That started a run of 14 straight points that lasted nearly 5 1/2 minutes, ending with Alexander’s driving layup that made it 22-15. Alexander then hit another layup with 2:06 left in the half, enabling the Vols to head for the locker room with a 34-19 lead.
—Field Level Media