After slow start, Vols put away Western Carolina 66-52

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- Tennessee used an 18-2 run midway through the second half to rally from a deficit and knock off Western Carolina, 66-52, before 15,109 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday night. It was yet another balanced scoring attack for the Vols as four players scored in double-figures. Junior Jordan McRae led with 14 points off the bench for Tennessee (7-3).

Sophomore Josh Richardson equaled his career-high with 12 points.

Sophomore Jarnell Stokes also netted 12 points, while grabbing nine rebounds. Junior Trae Golden tallied 10 points, making 8-10 from the foul-line.

In his return to the lineup after missing the previous game due to injury, Kenny Hall grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and scored nine points.

The win marked the 300th at Thompson-Boling Arena for the Vols. Since TBA opened its doors in 1987, Tennessee is 300-104 for a 74.3 win percentage.

The Vols outrebounded WCU, 45-30.

Tennessee held its fifth opponent this season to 60 or fewer points and all five have come in the last six games. The Vols have won all three games to start their six-game homestand.

Western Carolina (4-8) was led by Trey Sumler, who had 23. Brandon Boggs added 15.

After a sluggish first half with lots of missed shots, as the Vols had their worst shooting half in six years, the second half saw the action heat up. Neither team led by more than five points for the first 12 minutes of the second half. That was until the Vols buckled down on defense and went to town on offense.

The Vols surged out on Western Carolina during that 18-2 run midway through the second half to pull away. Down 38-37 with 11:57 left, the Vols wore down the Catamounts. Richardson's layup put the Vols ahead for good with 11:38 left, giving the Vols a 39-38 advantage.
Richardson and Hall added jumpers for a 43-38 lead. After a Mike Brown jumper, Tennessee reeled off 12 consecutive points to take a 55-40 led. Skylar McBee's 3-pointer punctuated the spurt with 4:11 left.
The Vols defense stifled the Catamounts, holding them scoreless for 5:07 during the 12-0 run.

Despite shooting just 3-of-21 in the first half, Tennessee led Western Carolina at halftime, 22-18 The Vols scored 14 of the final 16 points of the half over the final 6:12.

After trailing by as many as 10 in the first half, Tennessee regained the lead at 17-16 on a McRae free throw with 3:48 left in the first half.

The Vols started 1-of-15 from the floor and fell behind 14-4 midway through the first half as WCU went on a 10-0 run behind Sumler, who had nine of the 10 points in the spurt.

UT didn't have a field goal for more than 10 minutes before McRae ended the drought with a jumper at the 7:46 mark. That brought the Vols within six at 14-8.

Tennessee's three field goals were the fewest by UT in a half since shooting just 3-of-29 in the second half against Butler in 2006.
Tennessee returns to action as it continues its six-game homestand on Saturday, Dec. 29 against Xavier at 6 p.m. That game airs on ESPNU and can be heard on the Vol Network.

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