Key Shines In Season Opener, Vols Cruise Past Tennessee Tech

Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics
By Keeghan Krause

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 11 Volunteers had their Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, in which they took down the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 75-43.

While the Vols are still figuring things out offensively as a team, everything is clicking for transfer guard Tyreke Key.

Key transferred to Tennessee after playing four years at Indiana State in which he averaged 14.5 points per game. Tennessee knew they were adding a valuable veteran piece the moment he stepped on campus, but Key could end up being more important to this team than anyone imagined.

With Tennessee’s main offensive maestro from last year in Kennedy Chandler departing for the NBA and Zakai Ziegler stating that he “doesn’t want to start,” the Vols need “the guy” to run the offense. After what Key showed in the Gonzaga exhibition as well as the season opener, he could be just that.

On Oct. 28th the Volunteers participated in an exhibition against the second-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs, in which they won 99-80. The star in the game? Tyreke Key. Scoring 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 4-7 from deep. Impressive, but you couldn’t write too much into it just yet considering it was a scrimmage.

Monday’s matchup, however, was not a scrimmage. Monday’s season-opening game was for real, and Tyreke Key put up another impressive performance. He recorded a game-leading stat line of 17 points, four rebounds, and one assist, shooting 5-10 from the field and 4-8 from three.

But aside from the numbers you could tell Key’s presence was felt on the floor tonight. Every time this team needed a spark, every time this crowd needed a spark, Key delivered. Also, despite being a newcomer to the team you can tell this guy is already a respected leader out there, which says a lot.

Obviously, Tennessee has a long season ahead of them, and much tougher opponents to face. But, Tyreke Key is emerging early as one of the most important players on this team and is one guy for Vol fans to watch out for this season.

Other key contributors Monday night included Zakai Ziegler, who had a great second half and scored 12 points in the game, and Josiah Jordan James, who had a good game coming off his injury, scoring eight points and pulling in four rebounds.

Another was five-star freshman Julian Phillps, who had eight points and six boards. The Volunteers as a whole shot 26-65 from the field and 14-44 from three.

Finally past the nerves that come with waiting for the season opener, the Vols will return to action this Sunday at 2:00 PM in Nashville to take on the Colorado Buffaloes at Bridgestone Arena.