Defensive-minded Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin wasn't happy with his team giving up 80 points in its Saturday exhibition opener against Florida Southern.
The Vols' 78-47 win over Southern Indiana in their final exhibition contest on Thursday night fits his style a bit better.
"We came out aggressively," Martin said in his post-game press conference. "I thought we did a good job tonight in denying wing passes. If you can take away those passing lanes and opportunities, it will give you a better chance defensively."
After giving up eight 3-pointers to Florida Southern and allowing three opposing players to reach above double-digit scoring, UT's defense didn't allow a repeat performance on Thursday night.
Tennessee didn't allow a 3-point field goal or double-digit scorer from the Screaming Eagles.
Senior guard Jordan McRae — who led the way offensively with 15 points—attributed the improvement to his teammates locking down on the scouting report.
"We were closing in on their shooters well," McRae said. "We know who their shooters were. That was just us paying attention to our scouting report."
Tennessee never trailed in the contest, getting out to a quick 24-9 lead. Much of that was due to avoiding sloppy play—the Vols committed just five turnovers as compared to the 17 from Saturday's opener.
"(We) didn't get as many assists as we would've liked, but I thought we did a good job of not turning the ball over," Martin said.
Despite sporting a lead that reached as high as 33 points, UT shot just 36.4 percent (28-for-77) from the field — just edging out the Screaming Eagles' 35.1 percent performance.
"I mean, this isn't going to be the only game that we're going to shoot bad," said McRae, who shot 4-for-16 on the night. "We missed a lot of easy shots, layups and things like that.
"We're off (Friday), but I wouldn't be surprised if the whole team is in, getting up shots."
With Jarnell Stokes picking up two early fouls, junior college transfer center Rawane "Pops" Ndiaye saw his first extended action.
The 6-foot-10 junior played 17 minutes Thursday night after being on the court for just four minutes in the opener, picking up seven points and seven rebounds while giving the Vols a boost down low.
"This was a good opportunity for me to get out there and do what coach is expecting me to do," Ndiaye said. "But every day is going to get tougher, so I'm going to keep doing better and going hard in practice every day."
Also on the blocks, Jeronne Maymon picked up seven points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes of play. Stokes added 11 points and seven boards, contributing four of the Vols' 26 offensive rebounds on the night.
Memphis transfer point guard Antonio Barton missed the second of two exhibition games, still nursing an ankle injury he suffered in practice nearly two weeks ago.
Martin expects his assumed starter back for the season opener on at Xavier.
"He should be fine," the third-year coach said. "We'll take off (Friday) as far as practice, so he should be good to go in Saturday's practice."
The Vols' next opportunity to adjust will come in a tough road test in Cincinatti against Xavier to start out the regular season. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. Tuesday, and the game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1.