App State basketball falls to No. 10 Tennessee 79-38 in Knoxville

App+State+junior+guard+Adrian+Delph+defends+Tennessee+freshman+guard+Jaden+Springer+in+the+Mountaineers%27+loss+in+Knoxville+Tuesday.

Courtesy Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

App State junior guard Adrian Delph defends Tennessee freshman guard Jaden Springer in the Mountaineers’ loss in Knoxville Tuesday.

Ben Brady, Reporter

App State men’s basketball fell to No. 10 Tennessee 79-38 in Knoxville on Tuesday evening. The Volunteers got out to a fast start and never gave up their lead

“It’s a learning opportunity,” App State head coach Dustin Kerns said. “Even though we’ve seen some like opponents, we’ve never seen pressure like that.”

That pressure showed most significantly in the turnover column, as the Mountaineers committed 18 turnovers to the Volunteers’ six. 

Another significant box score differential was each teams’ field goal percentage, as App State hit 27.9% of their shots to Tennessee’s 49.6%. The Volunteers, currently 24th in the nation in steals, also swiped 12 steals to the Mountaineers two. Kerns affirmed that though he saw flashes of quality play from his squad, he understood the level of competition his team was up against. 

“We had some good possessions, but that team is hard to score on,” said Kerns. “They’re relentless, they’re long, they play very physically, and they speed you up.”

Tennessee, who was voted to win the SEC in the preseason, scored the first 13 points of the game to reach a commanding lead early. App State used a quick 6-2 run to pull within 18-6, but the Volunteers countered with a 10-0 to reach a 28-6 lead. The Mountaineers scored the final five points of the opening half and trailed 36-13 at the break.

After App State scored the first bucket of the second half, Tennessee responded with nine straight to build a 29-point lead and put the game away.

The 38 points App State scored was the fewest Tennessee allowed in a game since 2014.

For the Mountaineers, graduate transfer Michael Almonacy led the team with nine points, a team-high tying six rebounds and a team leading three assists.

 Sophomore wing Kendall Lewis contributed with eight points, and redshirt freshman R.J. Wilson, who knocked down a pair of three-pointers, finished with six points and a career-high tying four rebounds off the bench. Sophomore wing Donovan Gregory had five points and six rebounds, and junior guard Adrian Delph also had five points.

 Four Volunteers scored in double figures, including Victor Bailey Jr. who finished with a game high 13 points. Jaden Springer and John Fulkerson each had 12 points and Josiah-Jordan James finished with 11 points.

Though Kerns noticed missed opportunities and things to work on in practice, he looks forward to using the game as experience towards future opponents of the same caliber. 

“Now that we’ve seen it, we can certainly take some film from it and clean some stuff up,“ said Kerns. “We can take some things away from this experience, and hopefully move forward with it.”

App State will return to Boone for back-to-back home games on Thursday and Friday against Greensboro College and Columbia International, both starting at 6 p.m and both broadcast on ESPN+.