Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT/AP)-- Grant Williams scored 21 points Wednesday as Tennessee capitalized on hot shooting and a fast start to roll to an 84-60 victory over Mercer.
Tennessee shot 55.6 percent (30 of 54) overall and 52 percent (13 of 25) from 3-point range in a game the Volunteers never trailed. Jordan Bowden led the 3-point attack by scoring 18 points and shooting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
The Vols (5-1) were playing their first game since a third-place finish in the Battle 4 Atlantis that included victories over Purdue and North Carolina State plus a loss to No. 4 Villanova.
Mercer (5-3) played a second straight game without leading scorer Ria'n Holland, who averages 20.2 points and is shooting 56.8 percent (21 of 37) from 3-point range this season.
Jordan Strawberry scored 20 points to lead Mercer. Strawberry is the son of former major league outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who was watching the game from behind Mercer's bench.
Admiral Schofield had 10 points for Tennessee. James Daniel III contributed nine points and 10 assists with no turnovers.
Tennessee raced to a 28-7 lead in the first 12 ½ minutes of the game and never looked back. Mercer crept to within 13 late in the first half, but Tennessee's hot shooting prevented the Bears from ever getting too close.
The Vols sank eight straight shots at one point late in the first half to grab a 46-27 lead at the intermission.
That continued Tennessee's pattern of fast starts.
Tennessee has outscored opponents by 18.3 points in the first half so far this season and has limited opponents to 23.7 first-half points per game. Even in their loss to Villanova, the Vols owned a 46-34 halftime advantage.
Tennessee's football coaching search stole some of the attention during Wednesday's basketball action. Fans frustrated with athletic director John Currie chanted "Fire Currie" a handful of times. Midway through the second half, fans briefly shouted "We Want Kiffin," a reference to Florida Atlantic coach and former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.
The Vols are seeking a football coach to replace Butch Jones, who was fired Nov. 12. Tennessee was near an agreement with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano on Sunday before it fell apart amid a public backlash to the prospective move.
Mercer: The Bears didn't have enough scorers without Holland on the floor. Strawbery had a big game, but he didn't get much help. The only other Bear to exceed six points was Ethan Stair, who had 11 points when he fouled out with less than seven minutes left.
Tennessee: The Vols continued their hot start from 3-point range. Tennessee has shot 43 percent from 3-point range (55 of 128) so far this season, and the Vols have gone 21 of 43 from beyond the arc over their last two games. Tennessee made just 32.6 percent of its 3-point attempts last season.
UP NEXT: Tennessee is at Georgia Tech on Sunday at 6pm on ESPNU.