Bruce Pearl's postgame criticism of Scotty Hopson following Tennessee's loss at Connecticut Saturday appeared to motivate the junior guard Wednesday night against LSU.
Hopson scored an SEC career-high 22 points, including 17 in the first half to help the Volunteers (13-7, 3-2 SEC) cruise to a 75-53 victory over the Tigers (10-10, 2-3 SEC) in front of an announced crowd of 18,991 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"I don't feel like I played up to my potential, the way I could against UConn," Hopson said. "I just wanted to have a bounce-back game and get this team going."
Hopson came out assertive, scoring 10 of the team's first 16 points. His 22 points came on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, which included 3-of-6 from three-point range.
"I just wanted to come out with that focus and aggression to put the ball in the hole," Hopson said. "I think when I'm playing and not second-guessing myself on the basketball floor, I'm doing things well."
The team certainty did things well after coaches preached to the players about getting back to playing the way they had earlier in the year.
"Great effort by our kids," associate and acting head coach Tony Jones said. "They came out with a mindset and the focus, and they were determined to win this basketball game.
"Our message to our players was to get our identity back. We built this program on toughness, aggression and playing Tennessee basketball."
The Vols shot 46.8 percent (29-of-62) from the field while holding the Tigers to just 34 percent (18-of-53) shooting.
"Overall, very happy with this performance," Jones said. "I'm sure Bruce (Pearl) will be very happy (after) watching the game at home when I speak to him tonight."
UT led 43-27 at the half. The Tigers kept the Vols' lead to single digits during much of the first 20 minutes, but a 12-3 UT run to end the half gave the Vols its biggest lead of the half at 17 points.
"We had some breakdowns right before the half," LSU coach Trent Johnson said. "We were within striking distance, but when you've got a team as talented, skilled, and on the edge like they were from (their) previous performance, you can't let them open a cushion."
Tobias Harris was held scoreless for nearly 17 minutes to start the game. The Vols' freshman scored six points in the first half but finished with 11. Harris also had 11 rebounds, giving him his sixth double-double on the season.
"Uncharacteristically, Tobias missed some easy shots in the first half, right around the basket, that he usually converts," Jones said. "But I'm happy he battled back to get that double-double."
Harris made five of his last seven shots after starting the game 0-of-5 from the field.
Along with Harris and Hopson, Melvin Goins and Cameron Tatum scored in double-figures for the Vols.
Goins recorded his second consecutive game with double figures in scoring. The senior point guard scored 11 points and dished out a team-high six assists after scoring 15 against the Huskies on Saturday.
Tatum rebounded from a two-game slump to score 13 points. The junior had been held to just six points in the Vols' last two games.
Tatum also added four rebounds, three steals and two assists to his effort.
Senior center John Fields blocked five shots, one shy of the school record, according to Jones.
Next up, the Vols will travel to Oxford, Miss., for a 4 p.m. tip-off with Ole Miss on Saturday.