Hot-Shooting Vols Fly By Kennesaw, 76-67

Nov. 9, 2012

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vols used hot shooting early on and gritty defense throughout to post a 76-67 win over Kennesaw State on Friday night. Skylar McBee and Jordan McRae led the Vols with 14 points apiece. Kenny Hall (13) and Jarnell Stokes (10) also scored in double-figures as the Vols won their 14th straight season opener. The Vols are now 24-2 all-time in home openers at Thompson-Boling Arena, winning the last 21 home debuts.

Tennessee (1-0) shot 60.5 percent from the floor (26-of-43) for the game including 70.8 in the first half. The Vols were a crisp 7-of-12 from beyond the arc thanks to strong 3-point shooting efforts from McBee (4-of-7) and McRae (3-of-4).

Kennesaw (0-1) battled the Vols til the end and closed a 27-point deficit to the final margin of nine. The Owls were led by Aaron Anderson (16 points and 12 rebounds) and Delbert Love, who also had 16.

The Vols opened the second half on a 12-1 run to bust open the game and take a commanding 54-31 lead on a 3-point play (dunk and free throw) by McRae with 14:37 left in the game. The margin jumped to that game-high 27 points on the first Vol points from D'Montre Edwards, whose layup with 11:49 left in the game made it 61-34.

Kennesaw closed the game on a 33-15 spurt.

Jarnell Stokes's final stats from Tenneessee's season opener against Kennesaw State looked slightly different from a standard box score one might expect from a post player. Stokes looked almost like a guard despite his massive frame in UT's 76-67 victory over KSU on Friday.

Stokes scored 10 points and finished with five rebounds, five assists and five steals. He also added three blocks. Stokes missed two shots within the first two minutes of the game but made his next five shots to finish the night.

"Jarnell did a really good job of posting up and getting position," head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "He also passed well out of double teams and got his hands on a lot of offensive rebounds. All of the guys distributed the ball well."

Stokes finished second in assists behind point guard Trae Golden, who had 6. He led the team in steals and blocks and tied for second in rebounds. Stokes also grabbed three offensive rebounds with two of them coming off a teammate's missed free throw.

The 6-foot-8, 270-pound forward doubled his previous career high in assists, two against Auburn on Jan. 28 last year, before the first half finished. He also recorded a career high with five steals. The Memphis native swiped four balls in a game twice last season with the last one coming against Kentucky on Jan. 31.

"I got pressed a lot, and I wasn't expecting all those double teams," Stokes said. "It was a physical game, but I expect that every game. I've got a lot of trust in my teammates that when the double team comes, they will make the play."
-- By Ryan Howard

Kennesaw State's Markeith Cummings who entered the game 81 points shy of becoming the Owls' all-time leading scorer, finished with six points on 2-of-8 shooting. He was held scoreless until a lay-in at the 10:59 mark of the second half.

Tennessee lead the Owls, 42-30, at halftime thanks to some remarkable shooting from the floor. The Vols made 70.8 percent from the floor (17-of-24). Hall and McRae led the Vols with eight points.

Kennesaw battled the Vols close throughout the first half as Tennessee was unable to pull away early. McBee's second 3-pointer of the first half opened a nine-point lead at 30-21 with 5:17 left in the half. The Vols continued to expand the margin as McRae canned a 3-pointer late in the half.

The Vols used an 8-0 run to take a 10-4 lead on a Josh Richardson dunk, 5:22 into the first half.

Three Vols made their debuts as freshman Armani Moore netted seven points in 13 minutes, junior transfer Edwards had a bucket and redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous played 11 minutes, but did not score.

UT is 43-2 in its last 45 home-openers and has a 21-game win streak in such contests.

In 26 home-openers at Thompson-Boling Arena, UT is 24-2 and the average attendance is 17,229.

Tennessee heads to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in Bayamon, P.R. The Vols will open the event against UNC-Asheville on Nov. 16 at 12:30 p.m. That game will air on ESPNU and can be heard on the Vol Network.





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