Tennessee basketball bashes Alcorn State with balanced attack in 94-40 win

Olivier Nkamhoua dipped into the middle of the paint and let it fly.

The Tennessee basketball forward tossed in a pretty sky hook amid a torrid second-half run for Nkamhoua and UT's interior players.

The No. 13 Vols (7-1) bashed Alcorn State (3-6) inside and out in a 94-40 win Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena. It was the fifth time in six games Tennessee held an opponent to fewer than 50 points and the sixth time in eight games this season.

"Overall, I would tell you that it was our most complete game on both ends in terms of concentration," Vols coach Rick Barnes said.

Nkamhoua had a career-high 20 points, with 14 in the second half. Uros Plavsic had 12 points as UT's post players paced the offense. Julian Phillips had 18, with 14 first-half points.

ORANGE: Why Tennessee basketball is wearing orange away uniforms vs. Alcorn State

Tennessee tore it up in the paint

Tennessee had 50 points in the paint, dominating the undermanned Braves. The Vols did especially well at the rim, scoring 44 points on dunks and layups.

"Alcorn, our guys I think gave them the ultimate compliment, because they were locked in, ready to play," Barnes said.

Phillips had a pair of first-half acrobatic layups. Jahmai Mashack chipped in a highlight-reel dunk on a smart pass from Plavsic, putting UT ahead 83-34 with a three-point play. Tennessee had 27 assists on 33 field goals.

Josiah-Jordan James in, Santiago Vescovi out

Josiah-Jordan James returned for Tennessee after missing the past four games with knee soreness. James had two points, two rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes. He had not played since Nov. 16 against Florida Gulf Coast.

Senior guard Santiago Vescovi did not play due to a left shoulder sprain suffered against McNeese State. Vescovi was clipped on the perimeter after he faked a 3-pointer in the final minutes. Barnes said Vescovi is day to day.

The senior is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds. He had a team-best 18 steals entering Sunday and is shooting 31.7% on 3-pointers.

Mashack started in Vescovi's place. He had 13 points and seven rebounds.

B.J. Edwards got first-half minutes; Tobe Awaka rebounded well

B.J. Edwards was averaging 3.3 minutes in four games entering Sunday. The freshman played five first-half minutes against Alcorn State. Barnes pulled Edwards when he didn't dive for a first-half loose ball.

Barnes stressed the importance of UT's current stretch of three home games for Edwards and forward Tobe Awaka. Awaka had five rebounds in nine second-half minutes.

"Their instincts haven’t totally taken over," Barnes said. "I think once they can get minutes, and I do think before the year is out, those guys will help us in games that people might not think. We’re going to need them.”

Up next

Tennessee hosts Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee basketball bashes Alcorn State with balanced offense