The good news from Tennessee's exhibition game Monday night was that the Vols had to negotiate some late-game tension.
The experience should prove helpful on tense nights to come.
The bad news is, well, that the Vols had to negotiate some late-game tension.
That was Lincoln Memorial University, the little school from up the road in Harrogate, slicing a 22-point lead to four at one point late in the second half.
In 13 days, the Vols will be on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean five time zones away from friendly Thompson-Boling Arena and the competition will be national powerhouse Duke.
But not to get ahead of the story.
All ended satisfactorily for the home team on this night, a 76-67 exhibition victory. New coach Cuonzo Martin won his two exhibitions and each, in its own way, prepared his team for the season-opener Friday night against UNC-Greensboro.
Last Thursday, Carson-Newman did the favor of throwing a zone defense
at the Vols. They needed the practice and eventually warmed up to it and won by 19.
LMU provided a more meaningful 40-minute test. The Railsplitters are coming off a 27-3 season and are picked high in the NCAA Division II preseason polls.
"Most teams wouldn't play those guys because of what they bring to the table,'' said Martin.
Most of the Vols had played against many of the Railsplitters in the Rocky Top summer league and were aware of what they brought to the table.
The most productive inside player on the floor wore blue. Jake Troyli, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Presbyterian College, scored 25 points for LMU on 9-of-11 shooting.
Tennessee's two inside starters, Kenny Hall and Jeronne Maymon, were a combined 4-of-13 from the field. Both were in foul trouble too early and neither Renaldo Woolridge nor Yemi Makanjuola provided offensive spark off the bench.
The offensive spark came from the long-range gunners. The Vols took 31 of their 64 shots from 3-point range.
This, apparently, is no fluke. Against Carson-Newman, the Vols launched 31 of 58 shots from behind the arc.
What with Martin's reputation for defense, rebounding and a disciplined motion offense, I wasn't expecting 30 treys a game.
"I don't think we'll keep putting up 30 threes a game,'' said senior Cam Tatum, "but we do enjoy a coach that doesn't mind that.''
He really doesn't. Martin was, after all, a terrific 3-point shooter in his days at Purdue. This is a guy who once drained eight 3-pointers in an NCAA tournament game against Kansas right here in Thompson-Boling Arena.
"The key,'' Martin said, "is who's shooting them. If you have an open shot, you have to let it fly.''
I wasn't the only one surprised by this aspect of the new era. Sophomore Trae Golden admitted he was, too.
"He says if we play defense,'' said Golden, "our offense will come.''
And come from downtown. Golden is a combined 7-of-16 from 3-point range in the two exhibitions.
He had another strong box score Monday night — 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting, four rebounds, eight assists and zero turnovers.
Asked if he was prouder of the points or the assists, Golden's answer was quick.
"Eight assists, no turnovers,'' he said. "I'm a point guard.''
And as such, he's a little concerned with the offensive distribution from the two trial runs. He described Hall and Maymon as "bread-and-butter" guys.
"I really want to get our big guys going,'' he said. "I know Jay (Maymon) and Kenny want to get their engines going.
"Jay didn't finish like he wanted to but I know he's going to get better at that. We're going to keep feeding him and Kenny.''
In fact, that's exactly what UT did when LMU cut the lead to 69-63 with 4:03 left.
Coming out of a timeout with a designed play, Tatum fed Maymon on the block and the result was a strong move for a basket. The play helped the Vols weather the final minutes.
"I really saw a team that did not panic,'' said Tatum.
That's a worthwhile lesson to remember now that the games are about to get real.
The Vols might have the green light, but they'll need those bread-and-butter guys, too.