Tennessee delivered a cagey performance in what was supposed to be a trap game Tuesday night.
The 13th-ranked Vols scored an 86-56 victory over Middle Tennessee State before an announced crowd of 17,084 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
James Washington had 11 points, Rod Emanuel added 10, and former Fulton High School standout James Gallman had five points and two assists in the 19 minutes he played for the Blue Raiders (3-4).
"Tonight was kind of a trap game, so we just wanted to come out and play our game like we did against Villanova,'' said Harris, who had six rebounds, three steals and three assists. "Scotty came out tonight and he was hitting from the outside, so my mindset was to keep getting the ball to him knowing it would open things up for everyone else.''
Hopson scored 14 of his points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting beyond the arc as the Vols, just back from winning the NIT Season Tip-Off title and heading into finals week, took a 46-23 lead into the half.
Tennessee shot 50 percent from the floor for the game, and it came up with 16 offensive rebounds.
MTSU entered the contest out-rebounding opponents by an average of nine per game, but the Vols controlled the boards, 41-21.
"I played three centers, and together I think they combined for 18 (points) and 16 (rebounds),'' Pearl said. "The boards were very, very important.''
Starting post Brian Williams did the most damage statistically with nine points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
There was little dropoff when Pearl turned to John Fields and Kenny Hall inside.
Fields had four points, four rebounds and three blocked shots in his 12 minutes, and Hall had eight points, three rebounds and one block in his nine minutes.
The game started with the teams exchanging scoring runs.
Tennessee jumped out to an 8-0 lead that was answered by a 10-0 MTSU run.
Then it was the Vols' turn, and this time UT put the hammer down with a 21-0 burst, holding the Blue Raiders without a basket between the 15:01 mark and 6:57 of the first half when J.T. Sulton scored to cut UT's lead to 29-12.
Hopson came back with a pair of 3-pointers, and the Vols closed the half with more momentum when Skylar McBee banked a 3-pointer from near midcourt at the buzzer.
MTSU out-scored the Vols 8-4 to start the second half, but then Harris heated up with eight straight points and the Blue Raiders couldn't get closer than 19.
"I thought Tennessee moved the ball really well,'' MTSU coach Kermit Davis said. "They played hard, played like an unselfish team.
"I give Tennessee a lot of credit. They were really physical. We couldn't get anything around the goal, and they blocked shots and intimidated us off the dribble.''
UT used 13 players, but freshman Jordan McRae didn't play. Pearl said it was a "Coach's decision,'' and that McRae "didn't do anything wrong.''
The Vols return to action at No. 3 Pittsburgh (7-0) on Dec. 11 in an ESPN-televised game. Tennessee's next home game is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 against Oakland.