Williams leads Vols to win over Wake Forest
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Grant Williams’ knack for making baskets while drawing contact keeps paying dividends for Tennessee.
Williams had 22 points and 10 rebounds as No. 3 Tennessee trounced Wake Forest 83-64 on Saturday for its sixth consecutive victory. The Southeastern Conference scoring leader converted a trio of three-point plays in the first 14½ minutes of the game.
“He’s got a 6-11 wingspan and the one thing he’s added to his game is that high-release jump shot, and he can take a hit,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s what he does. He can deliver one, but he can take one, too. He can score through contact.”
Williams, a 6-foot-7 forward, has made just 10 3-pointers since the start of the 2017-18 season but has become a master of the conventional three-point play. He often points that out to teammate Admiral Schofield, who has made a team-high 25 3s.
“They’re fun because it’s my way of getting three points,” said Williams, who had 17 points by halftime. “I always joke with Admiral, you can get three (from 3-point range), but I’ll get the three inside. It’s kind of a little comedy thing that we have.”
Kyle Alexander scored a career-high 19 points and had 8 rebounds to help Tennessee (10-1) extend its home winning streak to 15 games. The Volunteers haven’t lost at Thompson-Boling Arena since last season, falling 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2.
The Vols improved to 3-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference schools. Tennessee beat Georgia Tech 66-53 on Nov. 13 and defeated Louisville 92-81 on Nov. 21.
“They played the way they’ve been playing all year long,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “They’re a very veteran, poised team.”
Chaundee Brown scored 19 points and Brandon Childress added 14 for Wake Forest (6-4). Jordan Bone had 18 points and Schofield scored 12 for Tennessee.
The game went back and forth for the first 15 minutes before Tennessee closed the first half with a 15-5 run to grab a 42-30 lead. The Vols then opened the second half with a 16-6 spurt to build a 22-point edge.
Tennessee eventually led by as many as 27.
“We focus a lot on the last four minutes of every half, really closing out halves,” Alexander said. “I think when we had our media timeout, Coach Barnes mentioned in the huddle, he challenged us to lock up and defend and make a run with Bone because Bone likes to get down the court … to really get out there and run with him and lock up and not foul. Guys did that.”