KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan McRae scored 19 points to lead six Tennessee players in double figures Saturday as the Volunteers tuned up for the start of Southeastern Conference competition with a 98-51 blowout of Division II program Tusculum.
Jeronne Maymon added 16 points, Antonio Barton chipped in 14 and D'Montre Edwards had a career-high 12. Jarnell Stokes and Josh Richardson had 10 points each as Tennessee earned its third straight win.
Darius Carter scored 22 points for Tusculum.
This matchup was considered a regular-season game for Tennessee but an exhibition game for Tusculum. NCAA rules allow Division II teams to schedule two exhibition games against Division I schools, and Tusculum had only faced one Division I program during the preseason.
Tennessee (9-4) opens SEC play Tuesday at LSU. Because this counted as an exhibition game for Tusculum, the Pioneers remained 1-11 after the loss.
Although the game does count in Tennessee's official statistics and records, it won't be factored into the Volunteers' RPI because it involves a Division II opponent. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said playing a game against a Division II program that had no RPI impact might be more helpful than scheduling a particularly weak Division I opponent that could hurt the Vols' strength-of-scheduling rating in the RPI.
This marked the first time that Tennessee had faced a Division II opponent in a regular-season game since beating Chaminade 86-60 in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 23, 2011.
Although the two schools are only about 75 miles apart, Tennessee and Tusculum hadn't faced each other in a regular-season game since 1944. They had met three times in exhibition games over the last decade.
Tennessee wasted little time asserting its superiority.
The Vols raced to an 11-0 lead by making their first six shots of the game, with five of them coming off layups or dunks. Tusculum played Tennessee to a standstill for the next 11 minutes to keep the margin at 11, but Tennessee closed the first half on a 20-6 run and didn't commit a single turnover before halftime.
Playing an overmatched opponent allowed Martin to substitute freely for much of the day. Edwards, a little-used guard who had scored just four points all season before Saturday, had seven points in the first half alone.
The Vols stayed in front by at least 19 points throughout the second half and led by as many as 49. Tennessee shot 57 percent from the floor and was 11 of 23 (48 percent) from beyond the arc on the day.