Kingsport Times-News: No. 3 Tennessee dismisses Mizzou for SEC road win

No. 3 Tennessee dismisses Mizzou for SEC road win

Associated Press • Jan 9, 2019 at 1:08 AM

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes told Kyle Alexander to stop thinking about scoring and concentrate only on defense and rebounding.

Since the talk last week, the points and rebounds have come in bunches for the 6-foot-11 senior forward.

Alexander scored 14 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds and third-ranked Tennessee routed Missouri 87-63 on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena. It was Alexander’s second straight double-double in Southeastern Conference play.

“He’s telling you everything you don’t want to hear, but you need to hear,” Alexander said of his talk with Barnes. “Those are kind of like the father-son meetings, the talks with your dad. They’re beneficial, but you don’t always want to hear what he has to say.”

The Vols (13-1, 2-0) displayed their depth against the Tigers (9-4, 0-1). Grant Williams entered as the conference’s leading scorer at 19.9 points per game, but he scored just four before fouling out.

No matter. Jordan Bowden came off the bench and scored 20 points for the second straight game, Jordan Bone added 17 points and Admiral Schofield finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman guard Xavier Pinson scored 14 points and Jordan Geist had 12 first-half points for Missouri. The Tigers were playing for just the second time since Dec. 22, and they began with a flurry. Led by the scoring and passing of Geist, they took a 27-18 lead when Geist made a nifty feed to Kevin Puryear for a dunk with 7:04 left in the first half.

But Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith — two of Missouri’s top three scorers — sat most of the first half with foul trouble, and the Tigers couldn’t sustain their early surge.

“We had good momentum, good energy, but you have guys out there playing extended minutes that aren’t used to playing that many minutes in those situations,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said.

The Vols finished the half on a 24-4 spurt to take a 42-31 lead. The advantage grew quickly in the second half as Alexander helped Tennessee hold a 38-29 rebounding edge.

Alexander, who has packed on 30 pounds since arriving at Tennessee as a wispy 195-pound freshman, controlled the paint.

“I used to struggle to get a point up on the board my first two years,” he said. “The fact I scored 14 and I didn’t really even make a post move, that’s crazy.”

Alexander’s defense — he blocked three shots — and rebounding pleased Barnes most.

“He’s making the extra effort to use his length and tip the ball to himself and go get it,” the coach said. “That’s what he’s doing, and you’ve got to give him all the credit.”


Missouri: The Tigers visit South Carolina on Saturday.

Tennessee: The Vols look to stay perfect in the SEC on Saturday at Florida.

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