Rick Barnes praises play of Jonas Aidoo

Barkley-Truaxby:Barkley Truax02/15/24


Jonas Aidoo scored a team-high 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting (73 percent) to go with 12 rebounds as No. 8 Tennessee cruised to a 92-63 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville on Wednesday.

The game broke a dry spell for Aidoo who came into the midweek road matchup averaging 8.4 points per game over the Vols’ last five matchups — way down from his season average of 11.8 points. After the game, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes explained how Aidoo was able to flip that switch against the Razorbacks.

“I thought he played to the rim. That was a big thing,” Barnes said postgame. “He played with some force in there. The last couple days we told him he’s got to play quicker. And I thought he did that. I thought he mixed in a few stationary jump shots that we know he’s capable of making and rebounded. He had a major presence on that (defensive) end down there, too.”

As usual, Dalton Knecht had a strong performance on the road, nearly matching Aidoo’s totals with 22 points himself. Jordan Gainey had a big performance off the bench scoring 17 points in 18 minutes on the floor, while Josiah-Jordan James rounded out the double-figure scorers for Tennessee with 12 points.

The Vols won the game without having to rely on the 3-point shot, only hitting five on the night and shooting 29.4 percent overall. With Aidoo leading the charge — Tennessee ended up scoring 48 points in the paint while only allowing 22. Defensively, Tennessee forced 15 turnovers and held the Hogs to 37.9 percent shooting.

“The real good part about it was that we had a game plan and we stuck to it,” Barnes continued. “I thought that defensively, especially, we were pretty consistent throughout the game. We said that we’re not going to jump out there if they make the threes early — which we expect them to be a little jacked up — and we’re going to stick with it. And they hit something early. Second half, I don’t think, maybe (they) hit one or two there at the very end.

“But just really proud of the mental concentration on the defensive end. And thought Jonas Aidoo was really (good), responded extremely well. But, overall, I mean, everybody. “

Tennessee will look to continue their dominance this Saturday back home against in-state rival Vanderbilt. The Vols defeated the Commodores 75-62 during their first meeting last month in Nashville, and has their eyes set on a season sweep this weekend inside Thompson-Boling Arena.

The opening tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET live on the SEC Network.