Aidoo scores a career high 29, No. 12 Tennessee takes care of winless Georgia Southern 74-56

By Justin Clemmer

Photo Credit: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee scored the first 10 points of this game and didn’t look back. One player was behind all 10 of those points. Vols big man Jonas Aidoo scored 10 of his 21 first half points all before the first tv timeout, the most for any Vol in the last 10 years. 

The Vols improve to 7-3 on the year, while Georgia Southern is still winless, now 0-10 on the year.

Georgia Southern trailed 49-21. Their inability to get inside the paint was just as bad as their inability to keep Tennessee out of their own paint. The Eagles were outscored 26-4 down low in the first half.

“They can clamp you defensively,” said Georgia Southern head coach Charlie Henry, “They’ve done it to a lot of teams and they definitely did it to us tonight.”

The Vols didn’t allow anything, anywhere. Both teams took 30 shots in the first half. The Vols made 18 (60%), Georgia Southern made five (16.7%).

During the 2nd half, a slow and lethargic Tennessee showed up. Georgia Southern outscored the Vols 35-25 in the half, they cut the lead to 13 at one point after trailing by 28. Tennessee’s ball movement was belittled to 3 assists and 12 turnovers in the 2nd half. 

Zakai Ziegler was able to get the flow of the offense back on track. Ziegler led the team in assists with seven, but even he struggled with turnovers, he had four on the night. As a team Tennessee had 19 turnovers, with six players accounting for multiple errors. 

“The way they came out of the second half was honestly extremely disappointing,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes, “We had too many breakdowns with the older guys tonight.”

Georgia Southern’s coach saw it differently. 

“Tennessee took their foot off the gas, just being honest,” said Henry 

Despite their struggles, it’s hard to lose when Jonas Aidoo has a game like he did. Aidoo stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds (six offensive), two blocks, two steals, and an assist. He was very comfortable with the ball in his hands, making the right plays as the roll man and being in the right position off his teammates misses. 

“There is no doubt that the perimeter guys are doing a better job looking for him,” said Barnes. 

They didn’t get as many minutes as coach barnes would’ve liked but the freshman quartet of Cade Phillips, Cameron Carr, J.P. Estrella, and Freddie Dilone all got run tonight.

“If you want to get on the court, it starts two days before the game starts.” said Carr 

At the end of the day, It is hard to shoot well when the ball isn’t moving around. The ball was sticking too much for Georgia Southern. They came into the game with a 0.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, ranking 357th in the country out of 362 teams. Somehow, this number got worse. Tonight they had eight assists to 15 turnovers.

Tennessee will go down as the winners this game but the second half struggles are consistent to the theme of the Vols this year, the lack of consistency.

The Vols will head to San Antonio, Texas to take on ACC opponent NC State as part of the Hall of Fame Series. Tip off will be at 10:00 p.m. ET this Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.