Vols Tip Season With 78-63 Win Over Asheville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Lamonte’ Turner scored 17 points and Yves Pons added a career-high 15 points as Tennessee opened the season Tuesday by beating UNC Asheville 78-63 for its 27th consecutive home victory.

At least for the moment, Tennessee has the longest active home winning streak of any Division I team. Buffalo will seek its 27th straight home win when it opens the season Friday against Dartmouth.

The Volunteers haven’t lost a home game since falling 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2, 2018.

Although it had little trouble keeping its home streak alive Tuesday, Tennessee also showed signs that it might have some growing pains as it attempts to replace three NBA draft picks from the team that owned the No. 1 ranking for four weeks and eventually reached the Sweet 16 last season.

The Vols only led by six points early in the second half against a Big South Conference program coming off a 4-27 season.

Tennessee lost 70 percent of its scoring from last season and must replace All-America forward Grant Williams and Associated Press second-team all-Southeastern Conference selections Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone.

Williams went to the Boston Celtics with the 22nd overall pick in the NBA Draft. Schofield and Bone were drafted in the second round.

UNC Asheville’s LJ Thorpe made a driving basket to cut Tennessee’s lead to 36-30 with 19:39 left. Tennessee responded with a 15-1 spurt and never looked back.

The Vols led by as many as 25 before UNC Asheville went on a late 12-0 run.

Jordan Bowden and John Fulkerson had 10 points each for Tennessee. Fulkerson also had nine rebounds to help Tennessee outrebound UNC Asheville 49-29.

Thorpe scored 22 points to lead UNC Asheville. North Carolina State transfer Lavar Batts Jr. had 11 points in his UNC Asheville debut.


UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs discovered how much of a difference Batts can make. Batts played just 21 minutes before fouling out, but he was productive while on the floor. The former top-100 recruit sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after averaging 3.7 points and 1.5 assists for NC State as a freshman. The Bulldogs didn’t get enough from Devon Baker, who averaged a team-high 16.1 points last season. Baker shot 2 of 10 and scored seven points.

Tennessee: The Vols lack proven frontcourt players and need breakthrough seasons from Pons and Fulkerson. Both looked vastly improved Tuesday. Fulkerson, who averaged 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds last season, was one rebound away from a double-double. Pons had three blocks and seven rebounds to go along with his 13 points.


UNC Asheville is at The Citadel on Saturday.

Tennessee hosts Murray State on Tuesday.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UT Vols

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