KNOXVILLE — Jordan Bowden scored a career-high 26 points and Yves Pons added a career-high 19, and Tennessee used a big 16-0 second-half run predicated on 3-point shooting and defense to defeat Murray State 82-63 Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Volunteers shot 50% from the field and made 12 of 22 3-point attempts, including a combined 9-for-12 from Bowden and Pons.
Lamonte Turner struggled scoring, with just five points, but had a career-high 14 assists.
Tevin Brown led the Racers with 17 points.
The Vols (2-0) next travel to Toronto to face Washington on Saturday at 5 in the James Naismith Classic.
Here is the Good, Bad and the Verdict from the win:
Bowden's shooting prowess always has been a positive, but it always appeared he was reluctant to be aggressive. Tennessee needed the 6-foot-5 senior in the worst way Tuesday, with Turner going cold from the field. Even Bowden battled some first-half foul trouble, but when he was in he was unstoppable. Also credit Pons, who has showcased a vastly improved jump shot and has four 3s in two games after making only seven in all of the 2018-19 season.
The first-half defense of the Vols. Murray State hit eight of 14 3s in building a 44-35 halftime edge. Some of the problem was having to go deep due to foul trouble, but the roster isn't going to change this season: The Vols have whom they have and the players off the bench are going to have to become factors for Tennessee to be better. Only seven played in the final 20 minutes, when the Vols outscored the Racers 47-19.
On a cold night when Tennessee didn't play well, the hot first-half hand of Pons and the hot all-game right hand of Bowden carried the Vols to a victory. There are going to be nights when the whistle isn't kind, and it helps knowing that Tennessee has two players — Turner just didn't shoot well — who can carry a load offensively.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.