Columbia, MO – Six double-digit scorers, a career-high 11 points from junior Jalen Johnson and a gritty defensive effort led the Tennessee Vols basketball team past Missouri, 69-59, Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.
The result improved the Vols to 9-5 overall and 1-1 in SEC play, while the Tigers fell to 8-6 (0-2 SEC) after dropping their first two conference matchups.
Johnson enjoyed his best performance of the season, scoring 11 points and knocking down a career-high three attempts from 3-point range.
Senior Jordan Bowden added a game-high 13 points and had four rebounds to cap several critical defensive stops.
Junior John Fulkerson and freshman Josiah-Jordan James each turned in quality nights, with both players scoring 11 points. James added a game-high-tying seven rebounds, while Fulkerson hauled in six boards of his own.
Freshman Santiago Vescovi, in his second appearance for the Vols, scored double-digit points for the second straight game, totaling 12 points, all in the second half, to help the Vols close out their first road victory of the season.
An evenly-matched opening 10 minutes—with neither squad leading by more than five points—saw the Vols holding a slim, 17-15 advantage at the midway point of the first half.
In the final stage of the half, Johnson knocked down three 3-pointers and hit both of his chances from the charity stripe to propel the Vols to a 32-28 halftime lead.
Out of the break, 3-pointers from freshman Josiah-Jordan James and junior Yves Pons increased the Tennessee lead to 38-28 less than two minutes into the second half.
The Tigers responded with a 12-2 scoring run to knot the score at 40 apiece. During that five-minute stretch, Missouri forced two shot-clock violations to help hold UT scoreless for more than three minutes.
Following the Tigers’ run, James knocked down two buckets in three possessions to match Missouri to keep the score even at 45-45 with 11:32 remaining in the game.
The back-and-forth action continued, with the teams trading baskets over the next five minutes. With the score tied at 53-53, Vescovi knocked down two clutch 3-pointers and made a layup on three straight possessions to give the Vols a 61-53 lead with just over four minutes remaining.
In the game’s final moments, Tennessee used solid shooting from the foul line and some timely baskets to secure the victory.
The Streak Continues
A rejection from junior Yves Pons late in the first half increased his blocks streak to 14 consecutive games to open the season. Pons, the SEC’s second-leading shot blocker, finished the night with three blocks.
Next Up For Tennessee Vols Basketball
The Tennessee Men’s Basketball team returns home Saturday to host South Carolina inside Thompson-Boling Arena. Tipoff is slated for 12:00pm CT on SEC Network.