KNOXVILLE - Josh Richardson scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds Thursday as Tennessee defeated Texas Southern 70-58 in its first home game under new coach Donnie Tyndall.
The Volunteers (1-1) won their 23rd consecutive home opener and avoided their first 0-2 start since 1965-66. Tennessee had opened the season Friday with an 85-69 loss to No. 15 VCU at Annapolis, Maryland.
Kevin Punter added 13 points, Armani Moore scored 11 and Willie Carmichael had 10 for Tennessee. Punter and Richardson each shot 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
David Blanks scored 14 points, Deverell Biggs had 12 and Chris Thomas added 11 for Texas Southern (0-3).
Texas Southern hung with Tennessee for much of the night and actually led 41-40 when Tonnie Collier's 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run with 13:21 left. Tennessee went ahead for good on Punter's 3-pointer with 12:14 remaining and eventually wore down the Tigers.
Tyndall had responded to Tennessee's loss to VCU by moving Carmichael and freshman forward Jabari McGhee into the starting lineup and moving sophomore forward Robert Hubbs and junior forward Derek Reese into reserve roles. McGhee had played just 12 minutes and Carmichael was on the floor for only four minutes against VCU.
Carmichael's energy provided immediate dividends. The 6-foot-8 freshman had seven rebounds to go along with his 10 points, and he also had a highlight-worthy block in the first half that led to a Punter 3-pointer on the other end of the floor.
But after losing its first two games by an average margin of 21.5 points, Texas Southern gave Tennessee plenty of headaches. The Vols didn't take their first lead until 12 minutes into the game and were tied 30-30 at halftime. The game featured eight ties and seven lead changes before the Vols finally took control down the stretch.
The trip to Knoxville was part of a busy early itinerary for Texas Southern, which reached the NCAA tournament last season by earning the Southwest Athletic Conference's automatic bid. Texas Southern is at home just once - Nov. 28 against Lamar - in its first 16 games.