Knoxville, TN – Tennessee won its 22nd consecutive home opener with a 74-65 victory over USC Upstate on Saturday night. The Vols (1-1) were led by junior Jarnell Stokes, who scored 17 and grabbed a career-high tying 18 rebounds. In his return to action at Thompson-Boling Arena after missing last season due to injury, Jeronne Maymon tallied 15 and hauled down 11 boards.
Down by as many as 13 on several occasions in the first half, Tennessee rallied in the second half, keyed by a 15-2 spurt which recaptured a lead the Vols wouldn’t relinquish for the final 8:41.
It was the Vols’ largest deficit overcome in a win since being down by 15 at LSU on Feb. 29th, 2012 when UT rallied for a 74-69 overtime in.
Tennessee Vols devfeat USC Upstate 74-65(UT Sports Information)
Jordan McRae (18) and Antonio Barton (13) also scored in double-figures with combining for (21) in the decisive second half.
It marked the first time Stokes and Maymon posted double-doubles in the same game and first time UT had a pair of double-doubles in a game since at Vanderbilt (2/13/13) last season with Stokes and McRae.
In his homecoming, Knoxville native and former Bearden High School star Ty Greene tallied 15 for the Spartans (1-2). Torrey Craig topped Upstate’s scoring chart with 20.
The Vols regained their first lead since less than four minutes into the game on a 3-pointer by Antonio Barton with 8:41 left in the second half. Barton’s bomb gave the Vols a 61-59 lead after trailing for more than 28 minutes.
Tennessee used a 15-2 run, spanning five minutes, midway through the second half to take a 63-59 lead with 7:20 left.
After an uneven first half, the Vols got their mojo on both sides of the floor, limiting Upstate to 26.9 from the floor while UT outscored the Spartans, 39-23, in the final 20 minutes.
The Vols made 23 of their final 24 free throw attempts in the game after starting 6-of-12 to finish 29-of-36 in the game for 80.6 percent.
Tennessee committed just five turnovers in the win.
After Tennessee edged within one of Upstate, the Spartans showed fortitude and rebuilt a lead of nine points with 12:33 left in the second half.
The Vols came out strong in the second half. After being held without a field goal in the first half, McRae brought Tennessee to within one at 44-43 less than four minutes on a pair of baskets including a 3-point play.
Tennessee trailed 42-35 at halftime as USC Upstate shot a sizzling 62.1 percent from the floor including 4-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc. Craig and Greene led Upstate with 10 points apiece in the first half. Stokes was the Vols’ top scorer with 12.
Of note in the first half, Tennessee was whistled for just three fouls, while the Spartans were called for 12. The Vols started slow at the foul line, missing six of their first 12 free throws, but made their final nine in a row for 15-of-21 in the first half. Upstate was just 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
USC Upstate used an early 13-0 run to take a 21-11 lead on the Vols with 12 minutes left in the first half, keyed by five points from Greene.
The Spartans expanded the lead to 13 on a 3-pointer by Craig with just over five minutes left in the first half. That put USC Upstate ahead 36-23.
The Vols cut the deficit to seven prior to half, scoring the final six points of the period.
Tennessee is now 25-2 all-time in home openers at Thompson-Boling Arena, dating to the season’s first year in 1987-88.
The Vols avoided their first 0-2 start since the 1965-66 season, coming off a 67-64 loss at Xavier to christen the 2013-14 season last Tuesday.
The Vols return to action on Monday for their second of three home games in a 7-day span as The Citadel comes to Thompson-Boling Arena for a 7:00pm tip-off. That game airs on Fox Sports Net South and can be heard on the Vol Network.
SectionsAnnouncements, Basketball (Men), Featured Story, NCAA, Schools, Southeastern Conference, Sports, University of Tennessee
TopicsAntonio Barton, Bearden High School, Big Orange, Fox Sports Net South, Jarnell Stokes, Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae, Knoxville, knoxville tennessee, LSU, Spartans, Tennessee, Tennessee Athletics, Tennessee Sports, Tennessee Vols, Tennessee Volunteers, The Citadel, The Vols, Thompson-Boling Arena, Torrey Craig, Ty Greene, University of Tennessee, Upstate, USC Upstate, UT, Vanderbilt, Vol Network, Vols, Xavier