Tennessee extended its win streak to 14 in season openers after defeating the Kennesaw State Owls by 76-67 on Friday night.
The Vols struggled to get their first points of the season, but after three minutes of play, sophomore guard Josh Richardson scored off a layup to get the Vols on the scoreboard.
The outstanding first half shooting of the Vols led the team to a 42-30 halftime lead. The Vols shot 17-24 from the field, making 4-5 of their 3-point attempts.
The Vols jumped out to a 61-34 lead midway through the second half behind the 3-point shooting of senior guard Skylar McBee and junior guard Jordan McRae, who both led the team in scoring at the end of the game with 14 points each.
"We had a balanced scoring attack. (The) guys did a good job distributing the ball," said head coach Cuonzo Martin.
"I don't think anyone on this team is selfish," said sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes.
After building the 27 point lead, the Vols let Kennesaw State right back into the game.
"In those types of games you'll be in the lead, the focus goes out of the door," said Martin. "It's tough when you have leads like that."
Martin said he would pull players aside and tell them, "It's not fun time. It's winning a ball game."
"We have to keep the intensity up," said McBee. "We need to cut down on the mental mistakes. If we do that, we'll be fine."
The Vols used Stokes as the core of their offense. Stokes shot 5-7 from the field with 10 points and was second on the team in assists with five, trailing only junior point guard Trae Golden, who had six assists.
"We would try to pound the ball into Jarnell," said Martin. "They would send guys to double-team him. When he got the ball, I thought he did a good job making decisions with it. He is one of the better passers on the team."
"I don't think there are many people who can stop (Stokes) once he gets two feet in the paint," said Kennesaw State head coach Lewis Preston. "He has gotten better at passing out of the post."
The Vols used the double teams that Stokes received to get McRae and McBee open looks.
"We've got Jarnell and Kenny in the lane who do a great job of kicking it out. So we're getting a lot of good looks right now," said McBee.
McRae was a perfect 3-3 from the field in the first half, and finished the game shooting 5-7 with three 3-point baskets.
"Jordan came off the bench and scored the ball well for us," said Martin.
"As a player, getting hot like that always does good. It feels like you can't miss," McRae said.
All four of McBee's field goals came from beyond the 3-point line.
"My role on the team is being an outside shooter," said McBee. "I have that mentality. I've got to make (3-pointers) in order for us to win."