Since stepping foot on Rocky Top in 2016 Jordan Bowden had started in every game, aside from two, for the Volunteers. On November 28th, Bowden found himself on the bench inside of Thompson-Boling Arena for the game opening tip-off for the first time in 42 games. The junior guard averaging 6.8 points per game prior to losing the starting spot.
On Sunday Bowden, again playing off the bench, struggled in the first half. His first shot not falling until three seconds left in the half. He’d end the day tying his season high with 11 points.
“There are a lot of ways that you can describe toughness,” Tennessee Basketball coach Rick Barnes said in reference to Bowden. “Toughness is when you are not shooting the ball well, you have to keep taking your shots. You are not going to make the next one if you do not shoot it.”
Bowden playing in the 76-73 upset win over then No. 1 Gonzaga wasn’t even a guarantee, tweaking his ankle in practice just two days prior.
“We were having a great practice and it was just one of those freak things,” Barnes said. “He went out and it just became a hush at Pratt Pavilion court because he was playing great.”
He would not return to practice, instead receiving treatment the ensuing days leading up to the Vols afternoon tip-off in Phoenix.
“He told me he would be ready,” Barnes said. “I thought he was really the biggest key in the game because when we were really struggling to shoot, score the ball and we missed some shots, he got aggressive.”
Bowden was tasked with shutting down Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell on Sunday. Norvell, who averages 18.11 points per game, posted just 11 points – his second lowest of the year.
“He had no responsibility other than trying to down him and he did a terrific job,” Barnes said. “He does a lot of that, and I think he got back in the last week and a half playing the way that we need him to play.”
Bowden will have the week to focus on practice and finals before taking on in-state rival Memphis.