No. 23 Tennessee 82, Chattanooga 62

Tobias Harris made fastbreak layups and knocked in jumpers from

the middle of a crowd of defenders. He hit free throws and even

swished a 3-pointer.

Not a bad start to a college career.

”Tobias is special. He’s super-solid,” Tennessee coach Bruce

Pearl said. ”A good coach will get him more shots, and our coaches

will try to get him some more looks.”

Harris scored 18 points in his first collegiate game and the

23rd-ranked Volunteers cruised to an 82-62 season-opening victory

over Chattanooga on Friday night.

The highly touted freshman gave the Mocs more than they could

handle in the paint, outmanning double-team coverage to get tough

shots. He drew enough attention from Chattanooga to open the lane a

bit for his teammates, and the Vols scored 36 points in the

paint.

”They were just playing physical and hard, but at the same time

if they want to play physical and hard, I can play physical and

hard and just continue to battle down there,” Harris said.

Harris hit consecutive shots in the paint before drilling a

3-pointer that kicked off an 11-0 run by the Vols. Keegan Bell

fouled Melvin Goins while taking a shot behind the arc, and Goins

hit all three free throws to make it 14-3 with 15:27 in the first

half.

The Vols took turns driving the lane and going to the free throw

line during a 17-0 run later in the half that put them up 40-18

with 2 minutes left. Tennessee shot 45.5 percent from the field in

the first half and held a 45-26 lead at the break with 20 points

coming in the paint.

Tennessee lost 79-64 in an exhibition game to Division II

Indianapolis on Monday night after struggling with composure in

transition and failing to hold on to the ball. This time it was the

Vols who were quick in transition, grabbing 10 steals and scoring

19 points off turnovers and 14 on fast breaks.

The Vols never trailed and led by as many as 31 points before

Pearl went almost exclusively to reserves.

”We didn’t play very well. I mean, we just didn’t play very

well,” Chattanooga coach John Shulman said. ”Bruce said we were

hard to guard, but the ball has to go in the basket.”

Goins scored 13 points for Tennessee – all in the first half –

and got four steals. Scotty Hopson also added 13 points, Cameron

Tatum had 11 and John Fields grabbed 10 rebounds.

Chattanooga returned three starters from last season and boasts

a deep bench, but its biggest question heading into the season was

its frontcourt play. Struggling to get anywhere near the basket,

the Mocs were forced to take most of their shots deep and scored

only eight points in the paint, all but two coming late against

Tennessee’s reserves.

At one point it looked like it might work. Bell hit three

straight 3-pointers to cut Tennessee’s lead to 21-16 with 10:53 in

the first half, but it was as close as Chattanooga would get on

32.7 percent shooting from the field.

”Their length and size was tremendous, and they were phenomenal

on ball screens, and our first options weren’t there,”

Chattanooga’s Ricky Taylor said. ”We had to go to our second

option and rely on our 3-point shot. They didn’t go in.”

Bell led the Mocs with a career-high 20 points and Omar Wattad

had 13.

Pearl put his players through a 5:30 a.m. film session on

Tuesday and some tough practices during the week in order to put

the exhibition loss behind them. They rewarded him by keeping him

perfect in his six season openers.

”We came off two great days of practice, and I think it all

stemmed from there,” Goins said. ”When we practice well we play

well.”