When Antonio Barton’s half-court heave hit the nylon at the buzzer, Thompson-Boling Arena, which had become increasingly electric through the first 20 minutes of the game, really started to rock.
A Tennessee men’s basketball team that had shown a knack for letting meaningful games slip through its fingers had a 22-point lead at halftime against a team that wasn’t supposed to cough up points like this.
And the Vols kept their foot on the gas in the second.
Antonio Barton talks about the Vols' blow out win against Virginia
UT (8-4) beat Virginia (9-4) 87-52 at Thompson-Boling on Monday. The 35-point margin of victory was the most lopsided coach Cuonzo Martin has had in his UT career.
Josh Richardson provided an early spark; he scored 15 in the first half and finished with a career-high-tying 20. His teammates picked up the load when he encountered foul trouble. Jordan McRae scored a team-high 21; Jarnell Stokes scored 20; and Barton finished with 14.
The Vols had their best start of the season, torching a Virginia defense that had held opponents to 54 points per game. Their 48 points at intermission were the most they had scored in a first half all season. That total, according to a UT spokesman, is the most Virginia had surrendered in a first half since it surrendered 55 to Washington on Nov. 22, 2010.
UT shot 50 percent in the game, made 11-of-18 3-pointers and made 22-of-25 free throws. Meanwhile, the Vols held Virginia to 32.7 shooting from the field and 2-of-12 from deep. Virginia’s leading scorer, Joe Harris, scored seven points. Justin Anderson scored a game-high 11 for Virginia.
Ben Frederickson covers UT men’s basketball. Follow him at twitter.com/Ben_Fred