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Tennessee cruises past Appalachian State, 79-38

Easy night for the Vols.

NCAA Basketball: Appalachian State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee entered their third game of the season needing to put some offense with their potentially elite defense. Tonight against Appalachian State, we saw our first glimpse of what that looks like — and it was good.

The Volunteers started hot, jumping out on a 13-0 run. Two threes from Josiah-Jordan James did the heavy lifting early on, while John Fulkerson made some headway in the post. Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson entered the game after that run, immediately making an impact.

Johnson slashed his way to the basket, while Springer connected on an up and under layup to extend the lead. Johnson also added this — a steal, then a slash through two defenders for the jam.

At the halftime break, Tennessee held a 36-13 lead. Once again, this defense stole the show, forcing App State to shoot just 18 percent in the opening half. The Vols, on the other hand, opened shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.

John Fulkerson led the way early on with eight points in the first half, as Tennessee had their way with the Mountaineers in the paint.

It was more of the same to open the second half of play. Santiago Vescovi drilled a three and Tennessee continued to win on the boards and beat up App State down low. The rout was on, now it was just about getting more reps in this early season. Uros Plavsic, Davonte Gaines and Drew Pember each got time off the bench late in the going.

Victor Bailey and Jaden Springer shouldered most of the scoring load in the opening minutes of the second half. Bailey overcame a cold start, while Springer showed his aggressive offensive side tonight. The five-star freshman consistently battled his way to the rim, fighting through contact to score pretty much whenever he wanted.

Springer ended with 12 points in 22 minutes. Bailey led the way with 13, closely followed by Fulkerson with 12 of his own. Josiah-Jordan James had a really nice game tonight, connecting on three three-pointers and leading the team with eight rebounds.

The Volunteers finished this win off to the tune of 79-38. The Mountaineers shot just 27 percent from the floor, while committing 18 turnovers on the night. It’s very early, but this Tennessee defense already feels elite.

It was just App State, but...

Tennessee returns to action on Friday night against Tennessee Tech.