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Tennessee rolls over Lenoir-Rhyne in season opener, 86-41

Fun night.

NCAA Basketball: Lenoir-Rhyne at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee absolutely rolled tonight in Thompson-Boling Arena, beating DII Lenoir-Rhyne 86-41.

I’m not sure I’d describe it as nervous moments, but Lenoir-Rhyne opened this game going six of ten from three point range. All of their initial 18 points were scored form behind the arc, but that didn’t last long.

Tennessee put together a run to bring the lead to 33-20 shortly after, capitalizing on their obvious size advantage inside. The Vols took a 50-30 lead into the halftime break as the Bears’ hot shooting went ice cold.

The Vols came out in the second half and buried the Bears. It was just the opposite of what we saw out of the halftime break last week during the scrimmage. After giving up 18 points to start this game, Tennessee went 8:47 without giving up a bucket to start the second half. It was a 19-0 run for the Vols, who never looked back in this uneventful opener.

Yves Pons looks like a different player

One emerging piece to this puzzle is sophomore wing Yves Pons, who is slated for more minutes after the departure of James Daniel from the rotation. Pons isn’t a perfect fit to replace those minutes, but he’s offering Tennessee a different kind of boost — pure athletic ability.

Pons was flying around early and often tonight, skying for rebounds and dunks. You can tell that he doesn’t have everything figured out quite yet, but once he adds some polish, look out.

Pons finished the night with seven points, five rebounds and two assists.

Jordan Bone’s aggression

No Lamonte Turner tonight meant it was Jordan Bone’s show at point guard. Bone frustrated everyone with his inconsistent play last year, mainly because his talent is so obvious. We saw that talent on display tonight. More importantly, we saw his aggression really come out.

Bone wasn’t hesitant, he was always attacking the paint. He stayed in control and got everyone involved, but took it upon himself to get to the bucket and finish several plays. We’ve talked a lot about a consistent third scoring option emerging. Bone could certainly be that, but I need to see him string a few games together before I anoint him as that. Tonight was a positive step forward, however.

Bone finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Final notes

Grant Williams got a little bit of run at point, playing a point-forward role with Jordan Bone on the bench. This was likely due to Lamonte being out tonight, but that’s an interesting development to follow. Grant also took two three point attempts tonight, hitting one.

All five starters ended up with double figures. Bone (18), Bowden (11), Schofield (13), Williams (13), Alexander (16).

Tennessee will take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday night at 7PM eastern.