KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (SUBMITTED) -- Tobias Harris scored 18 points in his first collegiate game and No. 23 Tennessee cruised to an 82-62 season-opening victory over Chattanooga on Friday night.
Harris gave the Mocs more than they could handle in the paint, outmanning double-team coverage to get tough shots. He drew enough attention from Chattanooga to open the lane a bit for his teammates, and the Vols scored 36 points in the paint.
The freshman hit consecutive shots in the paint before drilling a 3-pointer that kicked off an 11-0 run by the Vols. Keegan Bell fouled Melvin Goins while taking a shot behind the arc, and Goins hit all three free throws to make it 14-3 with 15:27 in the first half.
The Vols took turns driving the lane and going to the free throw line during a 17-0 run later in the half that put them up 40-18 with 2 minutes left. Tennessee shot 45.5 percent from the field in the first half and held a 45-26 lead at the break with 20 points coming in the paint.
Tennessee lost 79-64 in an exhibition game to Division II Indianapolis on Monday night after struggling with composure in transition and failing to hold on to the ball. This time it was the Vols who were quick in transition, grabbing 10 steals and scoring 19 points off turnovers and 14 on fast breaks.
The Vols led by as many as 31 points before coach Bruce Pearl went almost exclusively to reserves.
Goins and Scotty Hopson both added 13 points for Tennessee, and Cameron Tatum had 11. John Fields grabbed 10 rebounds.
Chattanooga returned three starters from last season and boasts a deep bench, but its biggest question heading into the season was its frontcourt play. Struggling to get anywhere near the basket, the Mocs were forced to take most of their shots deep and scored only eight points in the paint, all but two coming late against Tennessee's reserves.
At one point it looked like it might work. Bell hit three straight 3-pointers to cut Tennessee's lead to 21-16 with 10:53 in the first half, but it was as close as Chattanooga would get on 32.7 percent shooting from the field.
Bell led the Mocs with 20 points and Omar Wattad had 13.
Pearl put his players through a 5:30 a.m. film session on Tuesday and some tough practices during the week in order to put the exhibition loss behind them. They rewarded him by keeping him perfect in his six season openers.
Courtesy: Tennessee sports information