Pass-first with Tennessee's Darius Thompson
The Tennessee men’s basketball team started, stalled then pulled away from a win-less Tennessee State team still in search of its first win.
UT beat TSU 88-67 Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vos (3-1) won their third consecutive home game since their season-opening loss at Xavier on Nov. 12.
Tennessee State has started its season with six consecutive losses for the first time since 1999-2000, when the Tigers dropped eight in a row.
Senior guard Jordan McRae scored 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Junior forward Jarnell Stokes added 16 points and eight rebounds. Freshman point guard Darius Thompson had a solid outing as well. He finished with seven assists, five points and five steals.
After jumping out to a 16-point lead in the first half, the Vols’ momentum stalled as intermission neared. The Tigers cut the deficit to eight before the half then got as close as six early in the second. But UT countered with a run of its own, a spurt that relied heavily on attacking the basket and making the free-throws that followed; UT made 18-of-19 in the second half.
Now the competition increases. The Vols travel to Atlantis Twin Towers Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas, for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. They play UTEP at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 28. The winner of that game faces the winner of a first-round game between Iowa and Xavier.
Ben Frederickson covers UT men’s basketball. Follow him at twitter.com/Ben_Fred