Fulkerson, defense shines in Vols' win over UTC

John Fulkerson

KNOXVILLE -- There really isn't a scouting report for Tennessee forward John Fulkerson.

While on the court, there's some skill, but there's also hustle, effort, aggression, diving, falling, flailing, blocking, defending etc.

But what he does can't always be quantified, and sometimes that's just what the Volunteers need.

Like on Monday night. The 6-foot-9 junior did score 14 points and didn't necessarily dent the stat sheet in any other way. He finished with just four rebounds, one block, no assists and no steals, but he affected the game in so many ways as the 17th-ranked Vols posted a relatively lackluster 58-46 win over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in front of 18,556 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I do not go out thinking I'm going to shoot every time -- shoot 3s, pull-ups, all that," Fulkerson said. "I go out there wanting to get as many rebounds as I can, set good screens, get 50-50 balls, all that. I think that's important to click on other cylinders to get your shot going."

Fulkerson was one of the bright spots on an otherwise dismal offensive showing for the Vols, who shot just 37% from the field against the Mocs, but it's never been his mission to go out and shoot. In 81 college games, he's never taken double-digit field-goal attempts, but the 14 points were one off of his career high as he made all four of his shots and was 6-for-9 at the free-throw line.

But he's always been about hustle, and according to UTC coach Lamont Paris, it's pretty tough to prepare for.

"It's hard because he's so active," Paris said. "He plays with such a high motor. You're going to tell your guys, 'Hey, this is what this guy does.' His blue collar has a blue collar; he's going to play physical, aggressive and play hard. It's hard to get guys to simulate because that's what separates him. It's probably a big part of the reason he's able to play at this level, because he plays like that.

"It affected the game. It's not going to be on the stat sheet very often, but I thought his activity was definitely a factor -- his activity on ball screens, his activity as a rebounder, his activity as a pesky defender around the basket. He impacted the game, no question."

Lamonte Turner led the Vols with 17 points and 12 assists, while Jordan Bowden had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Josiah-Jordan James had 11 rebounds, while Yves Pons struggled with his shot but had three blocks.

The Vols (5-0) and the Mocs (3-3) next travel to Niceville, Fla., to play in the Emerald Coast Classic. UTC will face Alabama State on Friday at 1:30 p.m., and Tennessee will face Florida State at 6.

UTC will face either Chicago State or Jacksonville State on Saturday when the Vols will play Virginia Commonwealth or Purdue. All games are contingent on Friday's results.

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes has wanted to see Fulkerson become more active on the offensive end, but he's wanted to see his guards be more willing to look for him, something he felt they didn't do a good job of on Monday.

"He's likes to get on the open court and run, but you're not going to run if you don't think you're going to get it," Barnes said.

"But hustle is what he's about. It's going to be a big weekend for him because he's going to go up against some guys that are going to challenge him."

That is, if they can figure out how to game plan for "hustle and effort."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.

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