For a first half and then some Saturday afternoon it appeared Cuonzo Martin’s perfect record in exhibition games as the coach of the Tennessee men’s basketball team might be in jeopardy due to the preseason tune up he scheduled against former Purdue teammate and current Florida Southern coach Linc Darner.
But the Vols overcame the pesky Mocs as the second half carried on and Martin improved to 9-0 in exhibition games in three seasons at UT. The Vols turned a game that caused some early anxiety into a rout, beating the Florida Southern 105-80 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Junior forward Jarnell Stokes had 27 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Jordan McRae added 21 points and nine rebounds. And highly celebrated freshman guard Robert Hubbs played up to the hype, scoring 17 points in his collegiate debut. Senior forward Jeronne Maymon, who returned to action after sitting out all of last season with a knee injury, started the game and finished with eight points, seven boards and four assists.
Southern, which lost to No. 10 Florida 110-88 in Gainesville on Friday evening, trailed UT 47-43 at halftime after leading by as much as three points. Junior guard Kevin Capers carried the Mocs with 20 first-half points on 7-of-9 shooting. He got continued looks thanks to sloppy ball handling by the Vols, who turned it over 11 times in the first half.
But Caper cooled in the second (he finished with 24 points) and the Vols took better care of the ball (they finished with 17 turnovers).
UT’s next exhibition is a home game Thursday against Southern Indiana at 7 p.m.