Dec. 30, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Playing one of the nation's top defensive teams didn't slow down Tennessee on Monday night. The Vols posted a dominating 87-52 victory over Virginia. Tennessee improved to 8-4 overall, Virginia is now 9-4 as the calendar turns to 2014.
The win by +35 was the largest margin of victory in the Cuonzo Martin era, besting a 31-point win over The Citadel (12/29/11) in his first season. It was UT's largest win in a game since a 39-point win over East Carolina, 105-66 on Nov 20, 2009.
Virginia came into the game allowing just 54.2 points per game, Tennessee went to work early and scored 48 points in the first half -- the most allowed by Virginia in a first half in 118 games. The last time the Cavaliers allowed more points in the first 20 minutes was on Nov. 22, 2010 (55 by Washington).
Against a team allowing foes to shoot just 37.0 percent from the floor, Tennessee shot 50.0 for the game including 57.7 percent in the first half including 8-of-11 from the field. Antonio Barton (14 points) added the exclamation point to the first half with a half-court 3-pointer as time expired to put the Vols up 48-26.
Wooden Award candidate Jordan McRae led the Vols with 21 points. Jarnell Stokes tallied 20 as Tennessee had four players score in double-figures. Stokes make a career-high 12-of-14 from the foul line.
Josh Richardson scored 15 of his career-high tying 20 points in the first half as he made all six of his shots including three 3-pointers in the first period. Richardson finished a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point land.
Barton was also perfect in the first half, making four buckets, three from beyond the arc.
Virginia was led by Justin Anderson (11). Their leading scorer Joe Harris, also a Wooden Award candidate, was limited to seven points. The Vols' defense held the Cavs to 32.7 percent from the floor and 16.7 from 3-point range.
Tennessee shot 61.1 percent from 3-point range, 11-of-18. The Vols committed just six turnovers.
Tennessee jumped out to a 16-6 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by McRae and Richardson less than six minutes into the game.
The lead moved to 21-8 as Richardson was red-hot making his first five shots of the game including a pair of treys.
Tennessee made its first five 3-point field goal attempts in the game and 10-of-15 overall from the floor to build a 27-10 lead in the game's first nine minutes.
The lead moved to 24 points on a pair of free throws by McRae with four minutes left in the first half.
Coming into the game, Virginia's largest deficit of the season was 14 points (against Wisconsin). The Vols led by that many, less than nine minutes into the game.
Barton's bomb at the end of the half sent Tennessee into the locker room with its largest lead since a 50-26 advantage over Kentucky last season. The 48 points were the most in a first half since that UK game.
The Vols maintained a lead of at least 18 in the second half to record their third wire-to-wire win of the season and eighth under Martin.
Tennessee took a 26-point lead, 62-36 on a McRae layup with 12:30 left in the game. Richardson's fourth 3-pointer of the game regained a 26-point lead. Jeronne Maymon's pair of free throws ballooned the lead to 28.
Barton's layup with 4:26 left put Tennessee ahead by 35, 82-47.
Tennessee's starters had scored 79 of the team's first 82 points.
Virginia had lost its three games this season by a combined 16 points.
Virginia leads the all-time series with the Vols, 8-5, including last season's 46-38 victory in Charlottesville. Tennessee scored just 16 points in the first half of last year's loss. On Monday, they had that many in the first six minutes of of the game.
Tennessee returns to action on Saturday as local foe Tusculum College comes to Thompson-Boling Arena. That game tips off at 2 p.m., and can be watched on UTSports.com or heard on the Vol Network.