Tennessee rolls to win over Presbyterian in season-opener

Tennessee beat Presbyterian handedly in its season-opener on Friday night to start the season off on the right foot.

Tennessee opened the season with an 88-53 win over Presbyterian on Friday night in front of a Thompson-Boling Arena crowd of 15,047. With the win, Vols head coach Rick Barnes picked up his 400th career home win.

“Overall, it was a good team win,” Barnes said following the game. “Everyone we entered had their mind set on what we wanted on the defensive end.”

While Barnes was pleased with his team’s defensive effort, he was also happy with the offensive performance. Tennessee shot 57-percent from the field and 47-percent from 3-point range, but most importantly, the Vols didn’t turn the ball over a single time in the first half.

“It is something we’re happy with, and we talked about that,” Barnes said of the turnover-free half.

“We scored 26 points off turnovers,” Barnes added. “The mindset was we weren’t going to settle for three-pointers early. We worked the ball into a high-percentage area.”

The Blue Hose of Presbyterian scored the first basket of the game to take a 2-0 lead, but wouldn’t score for the next nine minutes as the Tennessee defense clamped down. Thanks to a 28-0 run in the first half, the Vols entered halftime with a 46-14 lead.

Sophomore guard Jordan Bowden led the Vols offensively in the first half. The Knoxville native was 3-of-3 from 3-point range, as he would shoot 6-for-6 from the field in the opening half.

Presbyterian shot just 26-percent during the first intermission. The Blue Hose are used to being shut down early on against the Vols though, as Tennessee’s 14 points allowed in the first half were its fewest allowed since holding Presbyterian to 13 first half points on Dec. 18, 2012.

After a big first half defensively, the Vols continued to play good defense in the second half. To start the half, Tennessee wouldn’t allow Presbyterian to score until the 15:42 mark.

Junior forward Admiral Schofield would lead the Vols with 22 points, tying his career-high. Schofield would add five rebounds, two steals and an assist. Bowden would finish with 15 points and five rebounds. John Fulkerson would add a team-high five assists.

After being picked to finish second-to-last in the conference, the Vols are playing with a chip on the shoulder as they’ve set out to prove the critics wrong.

“We are definitely playing hard and playing with a chip on our shoulder,” Fulkerson said. “It’s not because of where we were picked, but we want to set a standard.”

While it’s just one win, Barnes sees the potential in his team, but knows that they still have a long way to go.

“They want to be a good team,” Barnes said. “They know we’ve got a long way to go to be where we need to be, but overall, everyone who played really tried to focus in, especially defensively, to do what we needed to get done.”

Tennessee now turns its attention to High Point. The two teams will square off in Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET.

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