Bailey leads No. 8 Tennessee over winless Saint Joseph’s

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Five games into his Tennessee career, Victor Bailey is settling into his role as an offensive threat.

The transfer from Oregon, who sat out last season, scored 18 points Monday night to lead the No. 8 Volunteers to a 102-66 victory over winless Saint Joseph’s.

“When (Bailey) lets the game come to him, he’s a really good offensive player,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We want him to stay locked in on defense.”

Bailey was one of six players who scored in double figures for the Vols (5-0). Santiago Vescovi had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Yves Pons added 13 points and nine rebounds. Keon Johnson had 12 points, and John Fulkerson and Jaden Springer each scored 10.

Tennessee shot 10 for 24 (42%) from 3-point territory.

“They are a great team,” Saint Joseph’s coach Billy Lange said. “They have few weaknesses, particularly on a night where they shoot from 3 that well.”

Ryan Daly topped the Hawks (0-5) with 13 points. Dahmir Bishop scored 12, while Taylor Funk and Rahmir Moore added 10 apiece.

“Although the outcomes haven’t been what we will eventually come to expect with wins,” Lange said, “there are seeds that are being planted. There are things we’re doing within our fundamentals and our details and the attack mindset the team is growing.”

Tennessee, which limited its first four opponents to 33% shooting, held Saint Joseph’s to 40%.

Bailey had 13 points by halftime as Tennessee led 56-33 at the break.

Jack Forrest paced the Hawks with nine points in the first 20 minutes. Daly and Funk each scored eight.

The Vols jumped out to a 20-4 lead in the first 6:22. Saint Joseph’s shot 1 of 7 and committed four turnovers during that span.

LOTS OF WHISTLES

The teams combined for 52 fouls, 30 on the Hawks. A trio of Saint Joseph’s players fouled out.

“I feel like I heard more whistles than standing in Times Square in New York City,” Lange said. “(You have) to credit Tennessee. That has nothing to do with the officials.”

Barnes said: “They drive it hard, we drive it hard. That’s just what happens.”

VESCOVI STEPS UP

After not scoring in last Friday’s win over Tennessee Tech, Vescovi was more assertive with his looks at the basket.

“Santiago was really good,” Barnes said. “He turned down a lot of shots (against Tennessee Tech). We told him he had to take them.”

The point guard shot 4 of 8 on 3-pointers.

“When (Vescovi) is hitting shots, that puts us in a good position to win,” Johnson said. “It opens up the floor for everyone else.”

SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS

Tennessee had 23 assists on its 31 baskets. … The Vols outrebounded the Hawks 42-27. Rebounding has been a point of emphasis for Barnes this season. … Saint Joseph’s committed 18 turnovers. Tennessee came up with seven steals and five blocks.

BIG PICTURE

Saint Joseph’s: When the Hawks finally get into their Atlantic 10 Conference season, they’ll know they’ve already been tested. Losses to Auburn, Kansas, Drexel, Villanova and Tennessee have provided a strength of schedule that few A10 members could match.

Tennessee: Springer’s selection as SEC freshman of the week helps validate the Vols’ youth movement. He and Johnson, also a freshman, have played significant roles already.

UP NEXT

Saint Joseph’s: After a 20-day pause from late November through mid-December caused by COVID-19 issues, the Hawks added the trip to Tennessee as the last tune-up before their Atlantic 10 opener Dec. 30 at home against VCU.

Tennessee: When the Volunteers take on USC Upstate at home Wednesday it will be their fourth game in eight days in preparation for the start of SEC play Dec. 30 at Missouri.

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