KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) -- The No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers lived up to their preseason billing by dominating both ends of the court in a 106-46 victory over the Division II California (Pa.) Vulcans on opening night in a refurbished Thompson-Boling Arena before an exhibition record crowd of 19,780.
Playing with out sophomores Duke Crews, Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince who sat out due to injury, the Vols still managed to have seven players reach double figures in scoring. Newcomers Tyler Smith and Cameron Tatum, along with sophomore Josh Tabb each tallied 15 to lead UT.
Tabb was 5-of-6 from 3-point rage, while Tatum was sparkling off the bench in the first half as he lit up the nets for 13 points on 5-of-5 field goals, including two 3-pointers in six minutes. Smith hit 7-of-12 field goals in the contest.
Even with the wide margin, head coach Bruce Pearl was cautious in his optimism.
"It is tough to gauge where we are when the margin is so great," said Pearl. "Our kids played hard, not affected by the opponent or the score. We wanted to work on a few things tonight improving our defense and our free-throw shooting. We accomplished that."
JaJuan Smith added 13 and Chris Lofton scored 10.
Ryan Childress and freshman Brian Williams took control inside against the smaller Vulcans with 12 points apiece and eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
"Brian Williams is a force," said Pearl. "He can score better than he did tonight, but when he gets his hands on the ball, they cannot take it away. Cameron Tatum was patient and productive. I am not big on the early-season hoopla. I told our team we just have to roll up our sleeves and go to work."
Julian Logan led California with nine, while Alioune Mbaye had seven points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Tennessee took control early, racing out a 15-3 lead in the first 8:10 as it limited the Vulcans to just 1-of-11 from the field. A 3-pointer by Theron Colao made it 15-6, but that would be as close as California would get for the remainder of the night.
The Vols steadily increased their lead by applying pressure to force 11 first-half turnovers with nine via steals. They shot 55.6 percent (20-of-36) from the field, including 6-of-13 on 3-pointers.
The lead hit 20 at 30-10 on a jumper by Tyler Smith at 7:15 and continued to grow to the halftime score of 55-20, punctuated by a thundering breakaway dunk by Smith as time expired.
Tennessee's continued to pressure California the entire game, forcing 19 turnovers, outscoring it 51-26 in the second half. They limited the Vulcans to 1-of-24 from beyond the arc, while the Vols were 12-of-24 from long-range.
The lead grew to as much as 63 at 105-42 with 2:37 remaining on a 3-pointer by Tabb.
Tennessee plays its final exhibition game Monday against Lincoln Memorial Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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