Tennessee races past Eastern New Mexico in exhibition opener

After starting off slowly, the Vols found a rhythm at the end of the first half and dominated Eastern New Mexico in the second.

Tennessee basketball had a rough start in its exhibition opener against Eastern New Mexico on Oct. 31, but the veterans picked up the slack to propel the Vols to a 48-point victory in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The trio of Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden and John Fulkerson scored a combined 56 points, and Tennessee cruised to a 107-59 blowout win.

Early on, Tennessee struggled to gel with young guys on the floor. A slew of early Tennessee turnovers helped Eastern New Mexico jump out to a 15-12 first-half lead. Then Tennessee’s veteran players took over. The Vols went on an 18-1 run to end the half with a 52-28 lead.

However, Tennessee coach Rick Barnes was also quick to point out that his veterans made too many mistakes.

“We missed some shots tonight. I do think we have the ability to make some threes. We missed some wide-open shots tonight,” Barnes said. “That’s part of it too, the tempo of the game, guys getting settled in … we scored [107] points, we turned it over 18 times. I don’t think all those were forced. Some of it was where we tried to enter a pass. You can’t enter halfway across the court. Those are the things we’ll fix. It will be good for us.”

Senior guard Lamonte Turner led the Vols with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, with 16 of those points coming in the first half. Jordan Bowden was right behind him with 22 points. Bowden was 7-of-13 from the field.

“Those two guys [Turner and Bowden] have worked as hard as anybody since we’ve been here, and we need them to have big years,” Barnes said. “They’re going to do their part, but overall, other than the turnovers, I would say I’m happy with their effort and what they’re trying to get done.”

Tennessee hosts the University of North Carolina Asheville for its season opener on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. EST.

Edited by Christian Knox and Ainsley Kelso

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee basketball Twitter (@Vol_Hoops)