As the game turned: Unlike the Volunteers' exhibition opener where Tennessee lead by only four at the break, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin's squad put the Screaming Eagles away early on Thursday; UT reeled off a 20-5 run to start the contest before finishing off its second exhibition tune-up with a 78-47 win.
Southern Indiana did cut the deficit to eight with 7:15 remaining in the first half but didn't get within single digits the rest of the evening.
"I thought we had good looks in the first half," Martin said. "We didn't shoot it well, but I thought we had the looks ... I thought we did a good job of not turning the ball over."
Juniors Jarnell Stokes and Josh Richardson kept things on cruise control in the latter stages of the game as the duo tallied a total 15 points and six rebounds in the second half.
Hot topic: The whistles were extremely active again Thursday night as referees nationwide are reacting to the new rule changes that demand more foul calls on reach-ins and hand checks specifically. The two teams combined for 30 free throws and 24 fouls in the first half, but Martin didn't have many complaints despite the active whistle.
"For the most part just watching from the bench I thought they were legitimate calls," Martin said. "We try to spend a lot of time on defense at arm's length and moving your feet without fouling...We haven't changed a lot. We spent more time this week taking charges in practice."
With the Vols up 10 mid-way through the first half, a particular call against UT ignited fans as sophomore guard Armani Moore appeared to draw a charge on Southern Indiana guard Lawrence Thomas. The referee, however, saw otherwise and called a blocking foul, resulting in a frenzy of boos and choice words from those in attendance.
Spotlight: Thursday's victory brought more minutes for newcomer Rawane "Pops" Ndiaye as the junior college transfer played 17 minutes, posting seven points and seven rebounds on the night.
"Today I felt good because I played against guys that were my size and position," Ndiaye said. "I think I did a decent job in defending them and scoring the ball."
Ndiaye's presence was crucial in the first half as both A.J. Davis and Stokes exited early with heavy foul trouble.
"I thought we did a solid job when Jarnell went to the sideline especially when 'Pops' came in," Martin said. "He did a good job of posting up strong, setting good screens, getting good rebounds and again keeping it alive."
The other guys: Senior forward Aaron Nelson led Southern Indiana with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting as the loss wrapped up the preseason for the Screaming Eagles. Southern Indiana was coming off a 15-point exhibition loss to powerhouse Indiana and is currently ranked 18th in the NABC/Division II Preseason poll.
Outside the box score: After posting only 14 points in the paint throughout the first half, the Volunteers doubled that total after the break, scoring 30 of their 38 second half points in the paint.
Say something: When asked about the offseason grind and Martin's notoriously physical practices, senior guard Jordan McRae said with a laugh, "Yeah ... I can't wait for Tuesday."
By the numbers:
26: UT out-rebounded Southern Indiana 26-10 on the offensive glass.
31: The Volunteers got 31 of their 78 points from the bench.
2: The Screaming Eagles only had two points off turnovers as opposed to UT's 26.
Up next: The Volunteers travel to Xavier next Tuesday for the season opener. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m.