What a difference playing that first game makes.
Unlike Monday’s contest against Indianapolis when Tennessee’s basketball team struggled to find offensive rhythm early, the Volunteers used their size and quickness advantage to roar out to a 40-2 lead in the first 12 minutes and coast to a 82-51 win over the Division II Tusculum Pioneers before a crowd of 20,421 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
During that run to open the action, Tennessee made more field goals (17) than Tusculum attempted (15). Kyle Moore’s bucket for the Pioneers at 19:00 preceded a 13-minute scoring drought that ended on Tommy Klempin’s layup with six minutes remaining in the half to make it 40-4 in favor of the Vols.
Tennessee took a very comfortable 49-12 lead at the break as they forced 19 turnovers in the first half and 25 for the game.
“This is a tale of two halves,” UT head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We played with great passion and energy in the first half. We looked like Tennessee basketball.
“But in the second half, it became more of a half-court game. We need to have more than only Bobby Maze at the point. Where is the chemistry going to be with this team? It was good to see Renaldo Woolridge come out as a starter and play with such determination and effort. Brian Williams was injured in our pregame warmups, and, right now, we do not yet know his status. But J.P. Prince is ahead of prognosis.”
Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism each recorded double-doubles as five Vols scored in double figures. Smith tallied 12 points with 11 rebounds, while Chism added 13 with 10 caroms. Woolridge led Tennessee with 15 on six-of-12 shooting, including three 3-pointers. He was followed by Scotty Hopson’s 11 and Cameron Tatum’s 10.
Moore led Tusculum with 23 points, and Jimmy Boone added 10 for the only Pioneers in double digits.
Maze continued his solid play at the point guard position with nine assists and six points for the Vols.
A dozen players saw action for Tennessee as it slowed the pace down in the second half while maintaining a nearly 40-point cushion until Tusculum outscored the Vols 13-3 over the final 3:32 for the final margin.
Tennessee, which defeated Indianapolis, 87-73, in its first exhibition contest, opens the regular season at home on Nov. 15 against Chattanooga at 7 p.m. ET on SportSouth.