Bailey comes through for Big Orange

Red-Shirt Junior scores career high 29 points vs. South Carolina
Scoring a basket vs. South Carolina
Scoring a basket vs. South Carolina(Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 2:51 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Was it a big coming out party for Victory bailey Jr.? Well, Rick Barnes and his Tennessee coaching staff are certainly hoping so. Bailey, a red-shirt junior transfer from Oregon scored a career high 29 points including 7 of 10 three pointers in leading the 19th ranked Vols to a 93-73 win over South Carolina.

Bailey finished the night 9-of-16 from the field and 7-of-10 from 3-point range. His seven treys tied for the most by a Volunteer during the Rick Barnes era. Lamonte Turner (2016-20) also drained seven from long range against Presbyterian on Dec. 16, 2016.Bailey also tallied a career-high-tying four assists with no turnovers, one block and a steal as the Vols improved to 15-5, 8-5 SEC.

Bailey, who hails from Austin, Texas and again started his collegiate career with the Ducks, had to sit out last season here on Rocky Top. The talented guard did practice with the team last year gaining a lot of experience within Coach Barnes’ system. He came out at the start this season ready to explode and has had several double-digit scoring games including 18 points each against St. Joseph’s and USC Upstate, but he’s also struggled at time from the field, recently losing his starting job for the Vols.

Coming off the bench can sometimes spark a play and that certainly was the case for Bailey against the Gamecocks. Assistant coach Kim English was asked if there’s a difference in Victor’s play coming off the bench as opposed to starting the game. He said, ”I don’t think so. If it is something, it’s something our players are going to have to get over. Starting, a lot of the time, is out of their control. If they want to play beyond college and in the NBA—maybe none of our guys will be starters in their first NBA game. They might start, they might not. It shouldn’t matter. Your productivity when you get in a game is what matters. He also started four of the six non conference games, which were teams outside of the top 200. It’s bigger than that. I think VJ would’ve had the game he had yesterday if he started or came off the bench. His mindset was right. Coach had his back in a positive way. I’m happy with four assist and no turnovers. So, starting or not starting, it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. That’s something that young players worry about. Who finishes the game? Everyone is so caught up in the starting five, I’m more concerned with what lineups were most efficient on offense. What’s our best defensive lineup? What’s our best shooting lineup versus a zone? So again, I think that’s for fans, for young people to worry about who’s starting,”

Bailey and the Vols will look to stay on the winning track when Kentucky comes to town on Saturday. Tennessee won the first meeting this season at Rupp back on February 6th. Freshmen Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer came up big for the Big Orange and have continued to provide a spark for that Tennessee offense. Tip-Off Saturday inside Thompson-Boling Arena is scheduled for 1 p.m. You’ll be able to watch the game on WVLT and CBS.

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