Jordan Bone is a freshman for the young Tennessee team.
The Ensworth High School product suffered a stress fracture in a foot early in the season. He missed nine games and Saturday night was his fifth game back for the Vols.
Apparently fully recovered, Bone led the Vols to an impressive 87-75 win over Vanderbilt in Memorial Gym Saturday night.
Bone scored a career-high 23 points. He did everything Coach Rick Barnes wanted his point guard to do. He fed teammates for points five times. He had only one turnover.
It is no secret that Barnes has been harder on Bone than any other Vol. The team is filled with young players and Barnes knew he had to make Bone grow up in a hurry.
I don’t know how hard Barnes has been on Bone, but Bone played under Ensworth Coach Ricky Bowers, who demands 100 percent from his players.
“I’ve been really hard on him,’’ Barnes admitted after the game in which five Vols scored double points in a gym that has been a difficult place for visiting teams to win.
“I told him he’s going to be the voice for our team,’’ Barnes said of Bone.
“Our poise was great, the best (game) of the year. Bone was terrific.’’
It was a fast-paced game from the start, both teams pushing the ball up the court most of the game.
Both teams came into this game with 8-8 records. The Vols left Memorial Gym with a 2-3 SEC record, while Vanderbilt dropped to 2-3 inside the SEC.
The Vols shot a season high 58.6 percent from the floor, added eight of 15 from behind the 3-point line for 53.3 percent.
Both teams had five players each score in double figures, but Bone’s 23 points led all scorers. He played 31 minutes while Robert Hubbs III played a team high 35 minutes. Hubbs had 12 points for the Vols.
Neither team was highly thought of in the preseason. Vanderbilt has a first-year coach in Bryce Drew. He took over after Kevin Stallings left for Pittsburgh.
When Barnes was coaching at Clemson, he tried to recruit Bryce Drew, who played for his father at Valparaiso.
Barnes spent most of his career at Texas before being fired. He is trying to prove he still has the fire and desire to produce a winning product at Tennessee.
If he can find more players like Bone, Barnes should be on the Hill until retirement.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com Sports Columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.