BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (AP) — Jarnell Stokes and Kenny Hall led five Tennessee players in double figures Thursday as the Volunteers beat UNC Asheville 75-68 in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tipoff.
Trailing 20-19 with a little more than eight minutes left in the first half, Tennessee (2-0) went on a 19-8 run to halftime and never looked back. The stretch was highlighted by dunks from Hall, off a nice pass inside, and by Josh Richardson, who stole the ball and raced down the floor for the jam.
“Our guards did a good job penetrating and finding shooters and making plays,” said Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin.
Jeremy Atkinson led UNC Asheville (1-2), and all scorers, with 18 points.
The Volunteers stretched their lead to 13 points in the second half, though Keith Hornsby’s 3-pointer with under a minute left made it 72-65. But UNC Asheville couldn’t get any closer.
“I feel like we need to do a lot better job closing out games to get victories,” Hall said. “I think we just need to do a better job of keeping our poise out there on the floor, especially when we get a nice lead. We can’t get too comfortable out there because better teams will take advantage of that.”
Tennessee moves on to face Oklahoma State in the semifinals on Friday, while the Bulldogs will play Akron in the consolation bracket.