There was no fire and brimstone speech from Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl at halftime of the Vols' season opener, only mild irritation.
Tennessee scored an 83-54 victory over Austin Peay on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, but a stretch at the end of the first half left Pearl disappointed.
The Governors (0-1) closed the opening period on a 13-2 run to draw to 31-25 after the Vols missed nine of their final 10 shots heading into intermission.
"We could tell Coach was irritated,'' said UT sophomore Scotty Hopson, who led the Vols with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including making four of six shots beyond the 3-point arc. "He said we had succumbed to fatigue, and one of the things he has stressed is to fight through it.
"Tyler (Smith) got us together at half and told us to come out hard.''
And Smith led the way, scoring the first three baskets of the second half as the Vols opened on a 9-0 run to keep Austin Peay down by double digits the remainder of the night.
Smith scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds and tied for team honors with four assists and two steals.
"We got great leadership from Tyler Smith, and he played outstanding tonight,'' Pearl said. "I think the crowd inspired him.''
The attendance was announced at 17,963, but it appeared closer to 15,000 with a tipoff of 9 p.m. and many of the UT faithful headed to Oxford, Miss., for today's football game with Ole Miss.
Sophomore Cameron Tatum complemented Hopson on the wing, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Wayne Chism was a force underneath with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"They obviously wore us down with their size and athletic ability,'' Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. "I was pleased with the little run we had there at the end of the first half. I think we showed some good things tonight.''
Anthony Campbell led the Governors with 17 points and Wes Channels had 13.
Pearl said he was pleased with the Vols' defensive efforts, as they limited Austin Peay to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor while out-rebounding the Govs 46-33.
UT also forced 19 turnovers while committing 14.
"Point guard play was not good tonight; it will get better,'' Pearl said. "Bobby (Maze) just had an off night. He was so excited about playing before the game, and so energized. Melvin (Goins) had a nice stretch in there defensively and ran the club effectively.''
Maze scored only two points on 1-of-5 shooting and had three assists and a team-high five turnovers. Goins scored five points and had four assists and three turnovers.
UT sophomore Renaldo Woolridge did not dress for the game. Pearl said Woolridge had an injection into his injured right wrist last week, but he re-injured it earlier this week.
Vols' freshman Skylar McBee, who had been red-hot shooting in the exhibition games, was 0-for-4 shooting, while fellow freshman Kenny Hall failed to score until the final minutes.
Walk-on Michael Hubert rewarded the few who stayed for the game's remainder by drilling both 3-pointers he attempted in the final 1 1/2 minutes.
UT returns to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Thompson-Boling Arena against UNC-Asheville.