KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Trae Golden tied his career high with 29 points as Tennessee held off Chattanooga 76-63 on Monday night.
Golden, who had surgery on Friday to repair a fracture in his nose, was 11 for 17 from the field and 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Golden, who entered the game leading the Volunteers with an average 13 points per game, has played in every game since his nose was broken during a practice drill on Dec. 16.
The Vols (7-6) were a combined 13 of 39 from 3, getting 16 points from Skylar McBee and 12 from Jordan McRae. Their bench outscored the Mocs reserves 24-4.
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Tennessee scored the first seven points of the game as Chattanooga hit only one of its first eight shots.
The game quickly turned into a 3-point shooting contest between the two teams. The Vols had taken a 16-9 lead on a trey by Renaldo Woolridge with 9:23 in the first half, when the Mocs’ shots started to fall.
McRae fouled Ricky Taylor behind the arc, and Taylor hit all three foul shots to launch a 14-0 run. Taylor hit a pair of 3s and Keegan Bell added one of his own during the stretch that gave Chattanooga a 23-16 lead with 6:47 before halftime.
Tennessee got a trio of 3s from McBee that helped the Vols regain the lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game. The third basket in the set launched a 17-3 run for the Vols just before halftime, and they held a 44-32 lead at the break.
Omar Wattad hit a pair of 3s and Bell hit another to help the Mocs pull within 46-41 with 17:48 to play. McRae followed with his only trey, and the Mocs would get no closer as they failed to hit a field goal in the final 6 minutes of the game.
Taylor scored 17 points for Chattanooga (6-9), which is now 0-7 on the road this season. Wattad added 16 points, Bell had 15 and Drazen Zlovaric had 11 points for Chattanooga, which shot just 34.5 percent for the game but hit 11 of 26 from 3.
The Vols have put together a four-game winning streak after a rough stretch in late November and early December that saw them lose six of seven. They have a quick turnaround before their Wednesday rematch at in-state rival Memphis, which beat Tennessee 99-97 in double overtime at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22.