Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden (23) drives against Jacksonville State guard Derek St. Hilaire (15) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 75-53. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

No. 21 Vols top Jacksonville St. 75-53 for Barnes' 700th win

December 21, 2019 - 4:22 pm

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Rick Barnes got a reminder of his career milestone when his players started pouring water on him during his postgame speech in the locker room.

“I really hadn’t thought about it,” Barnes said Saturday after earning his 700th career victory with a 75-53 victory over Jacksonville State. “If I would have, when I had walked in the locker room, I would have been prepared for those guys to hit me with the water. I wasn’t. I should have been because they were very quiet.”

Jordan Bowden scored 19 points and Yves Pons tied a school record with six blocks as the 21st-ranked Volunteers snapped a two-game skid.

Barnes improved his record to 700-367 record in 32 seasons at George Mason (1987-88), Providence (1988-94), Clemson (1994-98), Texas (1998-2015) and Tennessee (2015-present).

He’s the 22nd head coach to earn 700 career Division I wins and is the seventh active coach to reach that mark. The others are Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis and Kentucky’s John Calipari.

“God has blessed me in more ways than I certainly deserve,” Barnes said.

Tennessee (8-3) withstood an early 7 ½-minute scoring drought and bounced back from consecutive losses to No. 11 Memphis and Cincinnati. The setback against Memphis snapped the Vols’ 31-game home winning streak.

Barnes spoke to the team Friday night in an attempt to get the Vols to end their mini-slump.

“He was just telling us we’ve got to start playing with heart and swagger,” said Lamonte’ Turner, who had eight points and 11 assists. “We were coming off a two-game losing streak - two games we feel we very should have won and could have won if we had just done the things that we work on in practice and just believed in ourselves. He told us to come out tonight and be a little gritty.”

Pons had 11 points and nine rebounds to go with his six blocks, which tied a school record he now shares with six other players. John Fulkerson added 16 points for Tennessee. Josiah-Jordan James provided 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Ty Hudson scored 11 points for Jacksonville State (4-8).

Tennessee missed 12 straight shots to fall behind 16-13 with less than seven minutes left in the first half. The Vols answered with an 8-0 spurt that included consecutive 3-pointers from Bowden, who was playing a day after the death of his grandmother.

“I knew my grandmother would want me to play tonight,” Bowden said. “It’s tough, but my mom told me to stay focused, go out there and if you want to play, play (and) if you don’t, don’t. She knew I wanted to play, and I’m glad we got the win today.”

Tennessee only led 30-26 at halftime but puled away by shooting 59.4% in the second half.

“The start of the second half, we were so out of sync in the defensive end,” Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper said. “We weren’t alert. Weak-side defense was non-existent, and they made us play.”

BIG PICTURE

Jacksonville State: Hudson’s performance should provide the Gamecocks with some confidence even after a lopsided loss. Hudson followed up a 19-point performance in a blowout of Delaware State by reaching double figures again Saturday. He has shot 11 of 14 over his last two games. Before this stretch, Hudson had gone just 18 of 59 from the floor.

Tennessee: The defense that has carried Tennessee this season delivered a more characteristic performance Saturday after not showing up at Cincinnati. In the Vols’ 78-66 loss to Cincinnati, the Bearcats scored the most points of any Tennessee opponent all season and shot 56.4%. Before that game, no Tennessee opponent had shot better than 41.1%. Tennessee collected five steals in the first 4 ½ minutes Saturday as Jacksonville State shot just 37%.

TURNER OUT

Starting guard Lamonte Turner announced after the game that he has thoracic outlet syndrome and will undergo shoulder surgery, ending his Tennessee career.

PONS’ BLOCK PARTY

Pons is the seventh Tennessee player to block six shots in a game. The others are Reggie Johnson against Vanderbilt in March 1977 and against Biscayne in November 1978, Doug Roth against LSU in January 1989, Elgrace Wilborn against Georgetown in the 2003 NIT, Wayne Chism against Kansas in January 2009, Kyle Alexander against TCU in January 2016 and Grant Williams against Texas A&M in December 2016.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Even after this win, Tennessee appears likely to fall out of the Top 25. That’s the price the Vols pay for their poor performance at Cincinnati.

UP NEXT

Jacksonville State hosts National Christian College Athletic Association program Carver College on Dec. 28.

Tennessee hosts Wisconsin on Dec. 28.

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