Vols win 19th straight at Thompson-Boling with rout of Florida Gulf Coast

AP photo by Wade Payne / Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua shoots over Florida Gulf Coast center Andre Weir during the Vols' 81-50 win Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee won its 19th consecutive game at Thompson-Boling Arena and did so with ease Wednesday night, routing Florida Gulf Coast 81-50 behind 18 points apiece from senior guard Josiah-Jordan James and senior forward Olivier Nkamhoua.

It was the first performance for the No. 22 Volunteers since Sunday afternoon's stunning 78-66 loss to Colorado in Nashville.

"I was really pleased with everyone," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said afterward on the Vol Network. "Obviously after a really disappointing performance in terms of not being who we think that we really are, our guys were terrific. We know that we can shoot the ball, but we were going to play the game the way we needed to inside-out.

"We were trying to establish getting the ball in there, whether it was pounding the ball into Olivier or whether it was guys going off the dribble to get it there, and I thought it was just a terrific team win."

Tennessee (2-1) broke the game open with just under 13 minutes to play in the first half, when the Vols used a 14-0 run to turn a 9-9 deadlock into a 23-9 advantage. James and Nkamhoua connected on 3-pointers during the surge, and the Vols wound up grabbing a 37-20 halftime lead on the strength of 12 points and six rebounds by James.

Florida Gulf Coast, which went on a Cinderella run to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 in 2013, entered Wednesday's matchup with a 2-1 record that included a 74-61 win at Southern California.

"They're a very good basketball team," Barnes said. "I think they're an NCAA team. They run good stuff, but we got them in some early foul trouble, and it was just an overall good effort for us on both ends."

The Vols and Eagles combined to commit 49 fouls.

Freshman forward Julian Phillips and sophomore guard Jahmai Mashack scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Tennessee, which connected on 49.0% of its attempts after making just 26.2% against the Buffaloes. Senior forward and former Hamilton Heights standout Uros Plavsic didn't play due to the ankle injury he suffered in the early minutes Sunday.

Tennessee is off until next Wednesday night, when the Vols face Butler in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.