In their first game since returning from the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the Vols (5-1) used a strong defensive effort to force 20 turnovers and hold the Bears (5-3) to a season-low in points.
The first half was highlighted by a balanced attack for Tennessee, as seven players recorded at least a point. After keeping Mercer scoreless for more than six minutes, a Jordan Bone alley-oop to Jordan Bowden quickly followed by an Admiral Schofield 3-pointer put the Vols ahead by 20. Schofield hit three of his four shots in the half for seven points, while Williams added 10 points and three assists.
Bowden was locked in from the tip, knocking down four 3-pointers over the frame to lead UT with 16 points. The Vols shot 66 percent as a team from 3-point range and made 11 of their last 12 field goals to gain a 46-27 advantage at the break. Jordan Strawberry led Mercer with 14 points.
Lamonte Turner turned it on in the early stages of the second half, hitting three 3-pointers before the 12-minute mark. Turner finished with nine points in 17 minutes of action. UT’s staunch defense carried over into the final 20 minutes, as it gave up just 10 field goals over the half. Tennessee also recorded 26 assists on 30 buckets in the game, led by Daniel’s 10.
Also appearing for the Vols in the second half was freshman Yves Pons. The athletically gifted forward from Fuveau, France, played the final six minutes of the game, and threw down two thunderous dunks which brought the Thompson-Boling crowd to its feet.
Strawberry finished with 20 points and Demetre Rivers recorded six boards for Mercer.
DANIEL DROPPING DIMES: For the second time this season, James Daniel III dished out 10 assists in a game, becoming the first Vol in the last decade to accomplish the feat multiple times in the same season.
BOWDEN CONTINUES STRONG OFFENSIVE SEASON: Heading into halftime, Mercer was doing all it could to attempt to halt sophomore shooting guard Jordan Bowden on the offensive side of the floor. Bowden, the SEC’s leading 3-point shooter heading into the contest, totaled 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor and four 3-pointers in the half to lead all scorers. He finished with 18 points in 27 minutes of action
VOLS’ HOT SHOOTING STREAK: UT started Wednesday’s game shooting lights out from the floor, connecting on 65 percent (17-26) of its shots during the first period. To end the half, the Volunteers hit 11 of their last 12 shots to take a 19-point advantage into intermission.
UP NEXT: Tennessee heads to Atlanta to face its second ACC foe of the season in Georgia Tech in a 6 p.m. tip on Sunday, Dec. 3. That game will be televised on ESPNU and will be available online through WatchESPN. After that, the Vols return home for three games beginning with Lipscomb on Saturday, Dec. 9.