KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grant Williams scored 22 points and No. 5 Tennessee used its stingy defense to beat cold-shooting Georgia Tech 66-53 on Tuesday night.
Tennessee (3-0) was playing one day after moving up a spot in the Top 25 to earn its first top-five ranking since the 2007-08 season. After the Yellow Jackets made the game’s first basket, Tennessee scored the next seven points and stayed in control the rest of the way.
Georgia Tech (1-1) shot just 27.6 percent from the field — its lowest mark since Josh Pastner took over as coach in 2016. The Yellow Jackets had nearly twice as many fouls (30) as baskets (16).
The Yellow Jackets missed 15 straight shots during one stretch, including their first 11 attempts of the second half. They didn’t make their first second-half basket until Jose Alvarado sank a 3-pointer with 12:12 left.
Georgia Tech still managed to hang around and cut Tennessee’s lead to 45-37 on another basket by Alvarado with 10:08 remaining, but the Volunteers responded with seven straight points.
Jordan Bone had 15 points and Kyle Alexander added 12 for Tennessee. Brandon Alston led Georgia Tech with 16.
Tennessee’s defense enabled the Vols to win on a night when they shot just 39.6 percent (19 of 48) from the field and 63.2 percent (24 of 38) at the foul line.
Georgia Tech received some good news earlier in the day as the NCAA granted a waiver allowing Texas transfer James Banks III to play immediately for the Yellow Jackets rather than sitting out the season. Banks had five points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes before fouling out.
The game marked a return to Knoxville for Georgia Tech guard Shembari Phillips, who played two seasons at Tennessee before transferring. Phillips started and played 22 minutes but scored just two points.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets lacked the outside shooting that helped them beat Lamar 88-69 in their season opener. Georgia Tech shot just 3 of 19 from beyond the arc. Georgia Tech’s 12 3-point baskets and 30 3-point attempts against Lamar were the most by the Yellow Jackets under Pastner.
Tennessee: After winning its first two games by an average margin of 33.5 points, Tennessee passed a tougher test Tuesday before heading to the NIT Season Tip-Off next week in Brooklyn, New York. After facing Louisville in the first round of the NIT event, Tennessee will meet No. 2 Kansas or No. 24 Marquette.
Georgia Tech hosts East Carolina on Friday.
Tennessee faces Louisville on Nov. 21 in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn.