KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In its final tune-up before opening the regular-season on the road at Xavier next Tuesday night, the Tennessee basketball team posted a 78-47 victory over Division II power Southern Indiana on Thursday night before 14,034 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols were led by senior guard Jordan McRae, who tallied a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds. He was joined in double-figures by juniors Josh Richardson (12 points) and Jarnell Stokes (11 points).
Freshman Robert Hubbs III added nine points. Four Vols grabbed seven rebounds: McRae, Stokes, Jeronne Maymon and Rawane Ndiaye.
Tennessee limited the Screaming Eagles to 35.1 shooting from the floor for the game including 35.7 percent in the first half. The Vols out rebounded USI, 56-37.
No Southern Indiana player scored in double-figures as Aaron Nelson was the team's top scorer with nine points.
USI was held without a 3-point field goal, going 0-of-11 from beyond the arc.
The Vols raced out to a 20-5 lead in the game's first eight minutes and never looked back. Tennessee led by as many as 17 points in the first half, building a 37-20 lead on a 3-pointer by Hubbs with 2:31 left in the first half.
As Tennessee took a 40-27 lead at halftime, the Vols kept USI without a first-half 3-point field goal and dominated the glass 31-19.
In the second half, the lead expanded to as much as 33 points.
McRae's posterizing slam dunk put the Vols ahead by 20 for the first time at 49-29, just three minutes in the second half. The lead ballooned to 30 at 73-43 on a pair of free throws by the JUCO transfer Ndiaye with six minutes left.
Southern Indiana lost to No. 24 Indiana, 83-68, last week.
Tennessee was again without senior-transfer point guard Antonio Barton, who missed his second preseason contest with a leg injury.
Tennessee opens its third regular-season under Cuonzo Martin on Tuesday, Nov. 12 against Xavier at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The game tips off at 9 p.m. ET and airs on Fox Sports 1 and can be heard on the Vol Network.
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin
"I thought we did a good job as a team really attacking the offensive glass. They are a physical team. They like to send three or four guys to the glass and I thought we did a really good job for us attacking the offensive glass especially when Jarnell (Stokes) went out because he is one of the key guys as well as Jeronne (Maymon). I thought the guards did a really good job crashing the glass and keeping those offensive rebounds alive. I thought we did a solid job when Jarnell went to the sidelines especially when Pops (Rawane Nidiaye) came in. He did a good job of posting up strong, setting good screens, getting rebounds and again keeping it alive. That was the biggest key. I thought we had good looks in the first half. We didn't shoot it well but I thought we had the looks, but then again when you rebound it like that where you make a conscious effort for our 3, 4 and 5 to crash the glass I thought they did a solid job with that. We didn't get as many assists as we would have liked, but I thought we did a good job of not turning the ball over. Again when you go two exhibition games not really running set plays the hardest thing in a motion offense is facilitating that ball, moving it and understanding reads without turning the ball over. I thought that was one of our better jobs even in practice having your spacing so now you can dribble and penetrate with the ball. Again, we try to have balanced minutes I think Josh (Richardson) and Robert (Hubbs) probably had the most tonight but we try to balance it out."
(On Antonio Barton's status for next Tuesday)
"He should be fine. We will take off tomorrow as far as practice. He should be good to go for Saturday's practice."
(On how the team is looking after these two exhibition games)
"The first exhibition game I thought we were hesitant defensively especially the first half. The talk so much, the hand shaking, bump and cuts, how you box out guys I thought we were hesitant in that. We had missed opportunities to take charges in that first game especially first half we didn't do it. We were better in the second half of the first exhibition game. I think in this particular game we came out aggressive denying wings and taking away passing lanes. I thought they called more fouls. For the most part just watching from the bench I thought they were legitimate calls. So I don't think there were any changes, because again we try to spend a lot of time on defense arms length and moving your feet without fouling. Only thing we have probably taken out of defense is bump and cuts when guys cut through the lane being physical from that stand point. So now we just kind of give space and shoot gaps more being physical in that area. We haven't changed a lot. We spent more time this week taking charges in practice."
(On if the rule changes will have a big impact going off the two exhibition games)
"I think we will find out Tuesday. It is just how the game is officiated out the gates and we will go from there. We want to stay aggressive. We will make adjustments. When you have a guy like Jarnell (Stokes) sit out for so long in the first half it can have an effect on guys in ways like that. You have to defend and play hard. I just hope there is consistency on the block and I have said that from the beginning. The thing on the perimeter nothing really changes you can get a hand check. When you are guarding guys on the post that is where it can get tricky."
(On what you liked out of the first two games)
"I think in the first game we did a good job shooting the ball and getting the ball inside to Jarnell (Stokes) and he also did a good job of rebounding. We made adjustments in the second half defensively. I think in this particular game we didn't shoot the ball well but we defended well. One of the things when they had the rule change where guys going off the dribble any type of contact is considered a foul. We spent more time denying the wings and taking away passing lanes because most teams when they move the offense there bigs get the ball to the center court and they move it either way. I thought we did a good job denying those wing passes. If you can take away those passing lanes and opportunities. A lot of teams like the flow of their offense going right or left that is where they come down and make that pass. If you take away those opportunities it gives you a better chance defensively. Most good defense teams are better on the weak side."
(On tonight's play)
"Not really. I thought we did a solid job. Again, we tried to strictly run mostly our set plays and that part worked out for us. We have to spend more time going live with our set plays and really using them from this point on."
(On second exhibition game)
"Not necessarily. You take one game at a time. Every opponent presents something different. We'll watch film on Xavier tonight and tomorrow and it's a different presentation, so to speak, on what they bring to the table and you make your adjustments and go from there. The bottom line is winning the ball game, putting yourself in the best position to do that."
(On multiple players getting playing time)
"Because of the game, it was fine. We did a great job of getting offensive rebounds. In Jarnell's [Stokes] case, being in foul trouble, then we sat Jeronne [Maymon] most of the second half to give those other guys minutes to play, so not necessarily. Those guys are finding each other. We'll run plays to give them the ball if we need to."
(On second half surge)
"Fresh legs and just being aggressive defensively more than anything. Fresh legs give some guys an opportunity, we'll go small in games, and a lot of times we consider AJ [Davis] a big or small depending on how he plays. He plays on the perimeter as well."
(On Southern Indiana)
"They get physical and crash the glass, but I mean, that's one of our strengths- being physical. That's one reason we wanted to play those guys. They do have big guys and advantage of pounding the ball inside. They execute the offense. If Lawrence [Thomas] doesn't have anything in transition, they run the offense. You have to be aggressive on their cuts- bumping them, being physical. They go high, low with their big guys. I thought we did a solid job of that."
(On Southern Indiana's injuries)
"I think Coach said he was cramping up. He's had an issue with that."
(On Rawane Ndiaye)
"I thought Pops did a good job. The first game was more, not what Pops did or didn't do, but they had so many smaller guys and I didn't think it would be fair for Pops to be out there chasing those guys around the perimeter. It was tough enough for Jeronne and Jarnell guarding those guys. I didn't want to put Pops in that situation. I thought tonight guarding a traditional big guy was better for him. He did some good things."
(On improving after exhibition games)
Just keep working.
"Well, I'm not sure. I saw the stat sheet when they played against Quincy. I think it was like 84-47, just the stat sheet but didn't see the game. They'll grind you out. They run a half court offense. They'll run in transition if they have opportunities. They'll run the set plays and execute the offense. They like to work the shot clock unless they've changed this year."
(On Rawane Ndiaye)
"He's gotten better. He came in probably 300 pounds and now he's probably 280 pounds. He's gotten better. He's one of those guys that's really improved from the start of practice up until this point."
(On tight calls in the first half)
"I didn't hear them say anything. I really didn't. That's part of it. We've said that will take place. The biggest thing is just stay aggressive, but I didn't hear anything."
TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD Jordan McRae
(On having less pressure this season)
"Yeah, I'm just out there having fun. Coach Martin, will get mad at me because I didn't shoot. So that's different, but just having Jeronne out there, having Jarnell, and Josh has been better on offense this year. Darius hasn't really shown much on offense, but I think as the season goes on and he gets more comfortable he will, and you also got a help side out there too easy, for an average scorer."
(On last season having extra pressure to score)
"I mean there was times, you know of course where I felt like I got to play good, but those are just games where you don't play good. Man, I'm just going out there with a clear mind, just like tonight I missed a lot of easy shots. It's going to happen. We'll get up tomorrow morning, and try to correct it."
(On fouls called tonight)
"You know, I mean, it's going to be the officials all year, but I feel like we got a lot of arm bar calls, but that's how we're taught, and until we all foul out that's how we're going to play."
(On how Coach Martin emphasizes physical defense)
"How hard we practice, and the way we maul each other out there, makes the game like much easier. Sometimes it feels like when they call fouls nobody even touches you, but I mean he says that always in practice, he tries to reiterate it to us, but you know we're going to practice hard."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR CENTER Rawane Ndiaye
(On the game)
"I think we did ok. I have to do a better job on the court. This was a good opportunity for me to get out there. Every day is going to get tougher. I am going to keep getting better and going harder in practice."
(On what he has learned here)
"I have had to work on my rebounding, boxing out, and scoring. It is all around. I just try to improve everything that I could. Those are things that coach expects me to do in the game."
(On why he picked Tennessee)
"I visited the school and liked the atmosphere. I liked the teammates, the coaches, and all the hard work. I had a good opportunity to come in and play. I have had to work my way through and get better every day."
(On improving from practice against Stokes and Maymon)
"It got me a lot better. I will give them all the credits. It got me prepared against other players. It makes it feel a little bit easier by going against one of the top big men in the nation. It feels good to play against others."
(On losing weight)
"It makes me faster, quicker, and I am able to jump higher. I can move around the court the way I want to move. I still feel like I could lose more weight though. I will keep working towards that every day."
SOUTHERN INDIANA COACH RODNEY WATSON
"I thought we handled their pressure in spurts throughout the game, especially in the first half. We were running some stuff in the last ten that were taking away in the first ten. That is an upside. We have to keep getting in sync as a group. We handled their press really well. That was one of the reason I wanted to come here. I know we are going to see quite a bit of pressing, especially in the non-conference. We really did a good job against their press. That was a real upside, that was really good. We got a little frustrated, a little worn in the second half. For a veteran team, that was disappointing to see. I thought our kids really kept their poise in this game, there is a lot to be learned from that. When things aren't going for you, especially early, you will see who is going to melt on our and who is going to stand strong. I thought by and large everyone hung in there."
(On learning lessons from tonight's game)
"This is not how we wanted this game to go. This really helps us get a concept of how hard we have to rebound, how hard we have to block out. The game is on the free throw lane, the way the game is being designed you have to stop those drives down the lane. You have to hold your ground and you have to go up with two hands to get the rebounds. We talked in the locker room after the game, if anybody remotely doubts the importance of the weight room, this game shows you how critical it is. College basketball is such a multi-dimensional game that you have to play strong and you have to use your whole body. This was a good test."
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Southern Indiana.............. 27 20 - 47
Tennessee..................... 40 38 - 78