KNOXVILLE – The Vols opened their basketball exhibition season Saturday by pulling away in the second half for a 105-80 victory over Division II Florida Southern at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Junior Jarnell Stokes scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Vols in the first of two exhibition games. Senior Jordan McRae added 21 points and nine rebounds.
Florida Southern, a 27-6 squad in 2012-13, was less than a day removed from falling to Florida 110-88, in an exhibition match on Friday night.
After a close first half, the Vols controlled the scoreboard after halftime. Stokes drove in for a dunk to put the Vols ahead for good 49-47 with 18:50 remaining. Tennessee led by as many as 29 points in the second half.
The Vols built their lead thanks to field goals percentage and rebounding. Tennessee shot 37-of-61 from the field (60.7 percent), compared to the Mocs’ 29-of-77 (37.7 percent). The Vols out-rebounded Florida Southern 56-29.
Freshman Robert Hubbs III, a five-star recruit out of Newbern, Tenn., came off the bench for the Vols to score 17 points in his debut. He logged 29 minutes on court, the most of any Vol. He was one of four newcomers to take the court, joining Darius Thompson, A.J. Davis and junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye.
Redshirt senior Jeronne Maymon made his competitive return to Thompson-Boling Arena after missing the 2012-13 season with a knee injury. Maymon ended with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“I am just glad he is out there,” Stokes said of Maymon’s return. “He is older and plays older. He understands the game. That is the biggest thing that was missing last year at that position. He understands the game so I feel like if I duck in, he will see me on the high-low pass. That is what was missing last year.
The first half featured back-and-forth scoring with five ties and eight lead changes. Tennessee finally took the lead for good when Armani Moore scored a layup to put the Vols ahead 40-39 with 3:30 left in the first half.
Tennessee held the lead 47-43 at halftime.
McRae scored 13 points in first first half and Stokes had 12 points. Kevin Capers of Southern Florida made seven field goals and scored 20 points in the first half alone. He finished with 24 points.
Tennessee hosts Southern Indiana in the second exhibition game Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. Eastern. The regular season tips off No. 12 at Xavier.
Information from UTSports.com was used in this report