KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After his Vols lost to Texas Tech, Tennessee coach Rick Barnes put his team through two very physical practices and that got their attention.
The No. 13 Volunteers (7-2) were ready to roll on Saturday and cruised past UNC Greensboro, 76-36.
“We spent a lot of time working against a hard, physical defense,” Barnes said. “We practiced against a defense that packed it in — when you know you have to fight when you drive. It got heated. We weren’t sure if they were going to come out with the kind of energy we need on defense.”
The Vols did in a big way. They forced 25 turnovers and improved on their miserable shooting effort on Tuesday against the Red Raiders. Josiah-Jordan James and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield each scored 12 points to lead Tennessee.
James made his first start since suffering an injury to a finger on his left hand in the third game of the season.
“Josiah’s a big-time shooter,” Barnes said. “He got in the rhythm today. When he gets in the rhythm, he’s as good as anyone.”
Santiago Vescovi scored 10 with eight assists and four steals to help the Volunteers flush the memory of the loss.
De’Monte Buckingham scored 10 points to top the Spartans (7-3).
“We allowed Tennessee to dictate the action,” said UNCG coach Mike Jones. “We were not aggressive. We were not ourselves. We have to be ourselves every time out.
“(Tennessee has) a lot of talented guys. We gave them a lot of free points. It gets frustrating.”
In its loss to the Red Raiders, Tennessee shot 27% from the field and 15% from 3-point range. The Vols improved substantially on both numbers, shooting 45% from the field and 37% from long range against UNCG.
“We need to shoot the 3 on our terms,” said Barnes, whose team depends on long-range accuracy quite a bit for success. “(Against Texas Tech) we pressed some. Today, there were three or four that we pressed on. We have to get that balance.”
Tennessee used a 13-0 run late in the first half to separate itself from the Spartans.
Wake Forest 79, South Carolina Upstate 53
WINSTON-SALEM — Alondes Williams finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to post the second triple-double in Wake Forest history and the Demon Deacons cruised to a 79-53 victory over South Carolina Upstate on Saturday.
Williams joins Tim Duncan, who did it in a win over Maryland in 1996, as the only Demon Deacons to accomplish the feat. Williams made 5 of 11 shots from the floor — with one 3-pointer — and all five of his free throws.
Carter Whitt came off the bench to score 16 — sinking 4 of 7 from 3-point range — for Wake Forest (7-1). The Deacons are off to their best start since the 2008-09 season when they opened with 16 straight victories. Dallas Walton pitched in with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The Deacons shot less than their ACC-leading 50% from the floor against the Spartans (2-7), sinking 28 of 62 shots (45.2%).
Jordan Gainey and Nick Alves scored 10 points apiece to pace SC Upstate. The Spartans trailed 29-18 at halftime before being outscored 50-35 after intermission. The Spartans shot 32.8% overall and made just 6 of 24 shots from distance. SC Upstate lost the rebound battle 47-34 and was outscored in the paint 38-22.
The two schools were playing for only the second time. Wake Forest beat the visiting Spartans 72-48 in 2007.
UNC 80, Elon 63
CHAPEL HILL — Dawson Garcia and Caleb Love each scored 22 points and UNC pulled away and posted an 80-63 win over Elon on Saturday.
The Tar Heels went to the free-throw line 35 times, knocking down 27 (77%) to overcome a 23-for-53 (39%) shooting night from the field.
Elon got off to a strong start and Darius Burford’s dunk with 7:24 left in the first half pulled the Phoenix even at 24. North Carolina responded with a quick 7-0 run and closed the half with a 37-29 advantage. Armando Bacot hit two free throws, then followed them with a steal and dunk to spark a second-half run. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Love pushed the lead to 54-37 seven minutes into the second half.
Garcia hit 8 of 10 from the free-throw line and grabbed seven rebounds for the Tar Heels (7-2). Love knocked down 4 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arc and collected three steals. R.J. Davis added 11 points.
North Carolina held a 43-28 advantage on the boards, pulling down 33 defensive rebounds and holding Elon (2-8) to just two offensive rebounds.
Hunter McIntosh paced Elon, hitting 4 of 9 from distance and finishing with 16 points. Darius Burford added 12 points and three assists. Elon shot 43% (25 of 58) from the field, but was just 5 of 9 from the free-throw line.
The loss was the seventh straight for the Phoenix.
UNC Asheville 73, Western Carolina 72
CULLOWHEE — Drew Pember recorded 19 points and 13 rebounds to lift UNC Asheville to a 73-72 win over Western Carolina on Saturday.
LJ Thorpe had 19 points and seven rebounds for UNC Asheville (6-4). Tajion Jones added 12 points.
Western Carolina hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left. Jamon Battle missed two free throws with a second to go but Western Carolina couldn’t get off a final shot.
Nick Robinson had 15 points and six rebounds for the Catamounts (6-5). Joe Petrakis added 13 points and seven rebounds. Vonterius Woolbright had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Charlotte 68, Valparaiso 67
VALPARAISO, Ind. — Jahmir Young scored 26 points and made a layup with 20 seconds remaining to lead Charlotte to a 68-67 win over Valparaiso on Saturday.
After Young’s basket, Jahmir Cannon added two free throws before Kobe King hit a 3-pointer at the end for Valpo.
Austin Butler had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte (5-4). Aly Khalifa added four assists.
King had 17 points for Valpo (5-6). Sheldon Edwards added 16 points. Trevor Anderson had 12 points and six rebounds.
VMI 64, Gardner-Webb 61
LEXINGTON, Va. — Jake Stephens had a season-high 28 points, including the game-winning layup with 11 seconds left, plus 16 rebounds as VMI narrowly beat Gardner-Webb 64-61 on Saturday.
Stephens scored and then Jordan Sears missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left. Sean Conway grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made two free throws with two seconds left. D’Maurian Williams missed at the buzzer.
Conway had 12 points for VMI (7-4), which won its fourth straight game. Kamdyn Curfman added 10 points. Tanner Mans had six rebounds.
Lance Terry had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-6). Williams added 15 points. Anthony Selden had 10 points. Ludovic Dufeal had a career-high 15 rebounds plus 4 points.
UCF 83, North Carolina A&T 68
ORLANDO, Fla. — Darin Green Jr. registered 18 points as Central Florida defeated North Carolina A&T 83-68 on Saturday.
Isaiah Adams had 13 points for the Knights (6-2). Brandon Mahan added 11 points, while Darius Perry handed out six assists.
Demetric Horton had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Aggies (3-8). Jeremy Robinson added 11 points, while David Beatty scored 10.
Jacksonville 77, UNC Wilmington 48
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Kevion Nolan had 17 points as Jacksonville rolled past UNC Wilmington 77-48 on Saturday.
Jordan Davis had 12 points for the Dolphins (5-3), who won their fourth straight at home. Mike Marsh added 11 points and Tommy Bruner scored 10.
Jaylen Sims had 12 points and six rebounds to pace the Seahawks (3-5).